See no ads, fear no ads

Paid search is cool. It’s what helps me sleep at night as a marketer. I can deliver ads to people that want to see them, as opposed to bombarding an uninterested audience while they fast forward through Breaking Bad. I’m selling a product with the user’s tacit permission.

Simply put, it’s the opposite of everything that sucks about outbound, interruptive marketing.

So what does the future hold for pay-per-click ads?

Google has filed a somewhat (okay, totally) creepy patent for an ad system called “pay-per-gaze.” That’s right, ladies and gentlemen: ad networks could start charging marketers every time someone looks at their ad.

But that’s not all.

Experts speculate that a premium could be placed on emotional response. Nod your head while looking at an ad? That’s an extra four dollars charged to the dude selling his own belly button lint. Raise your eyebrows at the Xbox One ad? POOF; Microsoft is in the red.

Before you sell your earthly belongings and move to the mountains, rest assured that this system won’t roll out for awhile. A few things need to happen before this becomes a profitable move for Google:

  • The majority of searchers must own Google glass, or a similar piece of hardware.
  • Marketers have to trust the system. Pay-per-click has a built in safe-guard that guarantees engagement.
  • Marketers have to actually want to use it. Who wants to be penalized for creating engaging ads that elicit an emotional response? Yeah. No one.

Pay-per-gaze may seem novel, but eye tracking has been an important tool in user experience research for years. Companies such as Mirametrix, iMotions and ASL Eye Tracking provide gaze-tracking services to help marketers understand their audience.

Pay-per-gaze could be an exciting technology that shakes up the digital marketing field, but there is an equal chance that it will fall flat. Leave a comment and let us know what you predict.

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