Don't start selling until you see the whites of their eyes: Google patents "pay-per-gaze" ads

In the future, your eyes could give you away to marketers--and make Google mad cash.

Google Glass screen
Google Glass screen

Although we are constantly surrounded by advertisements both online and offline, companies have no way to know whether we've actually seen what they're selling. That could change in the future, with the help of Google Glass.

A newly-discovered Google patent for "pay-per-gaze" ads would use eye tracking to determine what the user is looking at. Google's patent says it would then be able to charge companies when users look at advertisements, including online banner ads and offline billboards.

These pay-per-gaze ads could go even further, the patent says, by determining how long users have looked directly on an ad, and even measure emotional response.

"For example, if the advertiser desires to generate a shocking advertisement to get noticed or a thought provoking advertisement, then the inferred emotional state information and/or the gazing duration may be valuable metrics to determine the success of the campaign with real-world consumers," the patent says.

Google's patent also mentions the ability to provide automatic, augmented reality search results based on eye-tracking. Dubbed "latent pre-searching," the system would begin its search queries for objects in the user's peripheral vision, so they're ready to display by the time they come into focus.

Eye tracking is not a feature that Google Glass currently offers, but the code in Glass' companion app has hinted at support for "eye gestures" such as winks. Another Google patent has called for even more precise eye tracking, including a way to unlock Glass by tracing a lock pattern with your eyes.

Because these are just patents, there's no guarantee Google will implement them in Glass or other products. And even if Google did offer eye tracking, it would have to convince people that the benefits outweigh the creepiness of letting the company see what you see. "Latent pre-searching" doesn't seem like enough of a hook.

Technical hurdles come to mind as well. The current version of Google Glass already suffers from poor battery life, and the power it would take to constantly scan and interpret visual data would likely be immense. It doesn't seem practical without major breakthroughs in battery efficiency.

Still, recent reports have claimed that the final version of Google Glass may not cost a lot, and the idea of an inexpensive product supplemented by ads definitely fits with Google's business model. Even if pay-per-gaze isn't coming soon, it seems like something Google will inevitably try to pull off.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Conversations over a cuppa with CMO: Microsoft's Pip Arthur

​In this latest episode of our conversations over a cuppa with CMO, we catch up with the delightful Pip Arthur, Microsoft Australia's chief marketing officer and communications director, to talk about thinking differently, delivering on B2B connection in the crisis, brand purpose and marketing transformation.

More Videos

Hey there! Very interesting article, thank you for your input! I found particularly interesting the part where you mentioned that certain...

Martin Valovič

Companies don’t have policies to disrupt traditional business models: Forrester’s McQuivey

Read more

I too am regularly surprised at how little care a large swathe of consumers take over the sharing and use of their personal data. As a m...

Catherine Stenson

Have customers really changed? - Marketing edge - CMO Australia

Read more

The biggest concern is the lack of awareness among marketers and the most important thing is the transparency and consent.

Joe Hawks

Data privacy 2021: What should be front and centre for the CMO right now

Read more

Thanks for giving these awesome suggestions. It's very in-depth and informative!sell property online

Joe Hawks

The new rules of Millennial marketing in 2021

Read more

In these tough times finding an earning opportunity that can be weaved into your lifestyle is hard. Doordash fits the bill nicely until y...

Fred Lawrence

DoorDash launches in Australia

Read more

Blog Posts

Highlights of 2020 deliver necessity for Circular Economies

The lessons emerging from a year like 2020 are what make the highlights, not necessarily what we gained. One of these is renewed emphasis on sustainability, and by this, I mean complete circular sustainability.

Katja Forbes

Managing director of Designit, Australia and New Zealand

Have customers really changed?

The past 12 months have been a confronting time for marketers, with each week seemingly bringing a new challenge. Some of the more notable impacts have been customer-centric, driven by shifting priorities, new consumption habits and expectation transfer.

Emilie Tan

Marketing strategist, Alpha Digital

Cultivating engaging content in Account-based Marketing (ABM)

ABM has been the buzzword in digital marketing for a while now, but I feel many companies are yet to really harness its power. The most important elements of ABM are to: Identify the right accounts; listen to these tracked accounts; and hyper-personalise your content to these accounts to truly engage them. It’s this third step where most companies struggle.

Joana Inch

Co-founder and head of digital, Hat Media Australia

Sign in