Facial Analysis

What is facial analysis?

There are many ways to see how a commercial, direct mail piece, or other campaign material affects potential donors. One method we use here at the Moore DM Group Neuro-Fundraising Lab is facial analysis.

Facial analysis is an emotions research methodology that uses electronic sensors to detect subtle and not-so-subtle muscle movements in the face. These movements correlate to a respondent’s emotional reactions to a stimulus.

It’s important to note that facial analysis is not the same as facial recognition. Facial recognition is slowly gaining traction as a marketing technique wherein computerized software identifies particular customers based on stored data about their facial features. Facial analysis is not a marketing technique and does not use personally identifiable data; it is a neuroscientific approach to the study of affect and response.

What can facial analysis tell us?

Have you ever wondered how potential donors react to your fundraising materials the first time they see them?

Facial analysis is a good way to get a picture of how respondents perceive a stimulus, and whether or not that stimulus connects with them emotionally. It also helps us find out if the stimulus is boring or confusing.

How does facial analysis work?

Facial analysis software syncs data about individual respondent’s facial muscle reactions with a timestamp of the commercial or other stimulus they simultaneously observed. If a respondent smiles, furrows her brow, or raises her eyebrows in surprise, we can see what she was looking at to cause that reaction.

We can also overlay data from multiple respondents to look for patterns in how respondents react to fundraising material.

How can facial analysis help your organization?

Facial analysis can help you understand how typical potential donors react to your fundraising content. It is a great way to answer questions like:

• Do potential donors find your organization’s fundraising content engaging?

• Do potential donors respond positively or negatively to the content?

• Are there moments in the commercial or elements in the print media that are boring, shocking, frustrating, or confusing?

Want to learn more?

There are many resources you can check out for more information on the use of facial analysis in neuro-marketing. Two of our favorites include:

Fernando De la Torre and Jeffrey F. Cohn, “Facial Expression Analysis,” in Thomas B. Moeslund et al. (Eds.), Visual Analysis of Humans


Meagan Peters, Using Facial Coding and Body Language Analysis to Research Consumer Emotions


Contact us today to find out how Moore DM Group’s Neuro-Fundraising Lab can put our facial analysis technology to work for your organization.