Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Neuromarketing ~ Your Brain on Ads
It was inevitable that the dramatic advances in neuroscience would be employed to sell things. It’s the type of thinking that makes free enterprise tick. So it should come as no surprise that the Nielson Company recently bought a stake in NeuroFocus, a Berkeley, California, company specializing in brainwave research.
Plus, there's even a hip new term to describe what’s happening: Neuromarketing.
Neuromarketing involves exposing people to advertisements and measuring their brain activity, eye movements, pulse rates and other physiological indicators to determine what messages and images are – forgive the expression – striking a nerve.
“We measure attention, second by second – how emotionally engaged you are with what you’re watching, whether it’s a commercial, a movie or a TV show,” A.K. Predeep, NeuroFocus’s CEO told the New York Times this week.
Neuromarketing, as it comes into its own, will rely on sophisticated brain-measuring techniques to determine what advertising content strikes deeply into the target areas of the brain so that future advertising can avoid hit-or-miss creative approaches. Research has shown that viewers become engaged with a typical television ad in from five to seven seconds, but other ads can snag you in as little as 1.5 seconds – and those are the ads neuromarketing wants to identify and replicate.
Of course the proponents of neuromarketing see nothing wrong with this. “We’re not trying to predict an individual’s thoughts and actions and we’re not trying to input messages,” says Robert E. Knight, director of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, and who coincidentally also serves as chief science advisor at NeuroFocus.
“The role of neuromarketing is to understand how people feel and react,” echoes Elissa Moses, chief analytics officer at EmSense of Westport, Conn., which does ad testing for clients such as Coca-Cola. “It in no way sets out to meddle with normal, natural response mechanisms.”
No, of course not. That would be a no-brainer.