MoviePass, a service formerly known for offering moviegoers unlimited movie tickets for ten dollars a month, is returning from bankruptcy with a new business model: trading ad views for “credits” used to redeem tickets. In an industry first, the platform will require users to enable the app to use their phone’s biometric facial recognition feature to ensure that they are actively viewing the ads that the platform serves. The feature will operate on any cell phone with a camera.
Apple has touted similar technology as a security measure for their face-ID-enabled iPhones – the phone will not unlock if the owner is not actively focused on the device, preventing unauthorized users from sneakily bypassing the lock. Some marketing firms also have used this technology to report ad engagement statistics. However, this would be the first time a company has used the technology to enforce ad viewership.
In a statement, MoviePass founder Stacy Spikes asserted that the feature would directly benefit consumers. “It takes the middleman out, versus people selling your data and giving away information for you to have access to things. We’re going to empower that that happens directly to you.”
He also views it as keeping consumers honest. “We had an early version of this where you know what happened. People put the phone down and left and didn’t pay any attention to it. Right now 70 percent of video advertising is unseen. This is a way that advertisers get the impact they’re looking for but you’re also getting the impact yourself.”
While MoviePass’s eye-tracking feature is currently opt-in, many commentators are uneasy about the potential for advertisers to abuse the technology. It remains to be seen whether this is the start of a new era of advertising or whether the Federal Trade Commission or Federal Communications Commission will seek to regulate the practice.
MoviePass’s relaunch is expected to go live this summer.
*This post was authored by Blair Robinson, legal intern at Robinson+Cole. Blair is not admitted to practice law.