MEASURING ENGAGEMENT BIOLOGICALLY
The level of participation attendees demonstrate in games and polls is certainly one important metric of engagement. But technology is also facilitating a more direct measurement of engagement via biometric data, e.g., facial cues. It has been argued that these kinds of metrics, since they are based in unconscious responses, are better indicators of attendees’ actual engagement as well as learning. “While surveys have a role, research shows that self-reports are only 17% accurate at predicting outcomes like information recall and sales growth after training,” says Devin Carver, CMP, Director of Sales and Marketing with Bishop-McCann in Kansas City, Missouri. “Decisions are largely made in unconscious, emotional brain regions.” It is thus highly valuable to be able to “distinguish what people say they ‘like’ from what their brains ‘love,’” Carver adds.
One example of a leader in the biometric technology area is Zenus, a Houston, Texas-based company that offers a mountable camera that analyzes facial cues relevant to engagement without actually ‘recognizing’ or identifying attendees. Identification is needed for registration, of course, and facial recognition technology is also applicable for that purpose. “The facial recognition processing time is still being fine-tuned, and there are still a few challenges with the technology, but ultimately, registration is more efficient with facial recognition,” Carver maintains. “Check-in is much quicker because there is no fumbling with tickets or identification, and it’s more secure. Besides streamlining the registration process, facial recognition also provides better overall event security. This technology makes it possible for corporate event planners and program managers to strengthen security if needed, map user behavior and monitor attendee engagement levels without inconveniencing attendees.”
A new, wearable form of biometric technology comes from a partnership between Bishop-McCann and Immersion Neuroscience. The product, known as Immersion Events, consists of an app paired with a wristband neurosensor that consistently captures subtle changes in cardiac rhythm that indicate changes in attention, and both conscious and unconscious emotional responses. The data is sent to the cloud, allowing corporate event hosts and speakers to evaluate, in real time, what aspects of the event are creating the most engagement among participants, whether a certain presentation, message, networking location and so on.
Planners may be concerned that attendees will become self-conscious wearing such a device, which in turn may inhibit the measurement of their natural responses. But Carver points out that it’s easy to forget one is wearing the band. In addition, “We most often review the data in aggregate because we’re looking for overall event trends. Thus, attendees have no need to worry about being singled out based on their specific reactions. Moreover, the solution only requires 30-35 attendees wearing the device to get robust and reliable results, so if you’re at a conference with thousands, more than likely you can find plenty of advocates to wear the band.”
Article by Patrick Simms, Corporate & Incentive Travel, www.themeetingmagazines.com