Are Your Analytics Neuromarketing-Ready?

You probably haven't thought through an analytics methodology for neuromarketing, biometric marketing, or any of the other new fields that scientifically measure emotional responses to ads. But you should.

Consider: a few weeks ago, Nielsen completed acquisition of NeuroFocus, a neuromarketing firm that replaces focus groups with brain imaging, and has achieved great success for a client roster ranging from Intel to PepsiCo. Affectiva, a firm launched out of the MIT Media Lab which uses facial recognition technology and similar tools to measure the emotional impact of media, just landed $5.7 million in funding last week. Call it a gut feeling -- or a measurable emotional response -- but I don't think the new biological sciences of advertising are going away.

And if you can quantify exactly how ads are exciting consumers, it's not a far leap to tie that number to conversions or sales. Pretty soon, you're looking at biometrically solid engagement metrics that you can tie back to ROI -- and a whole new horizon that we'll need to consider in the world of media analytics.

In the brave new world of neuromarketing metrics, what are the issues that we need to keep an eye on? Here's a few:

1.   Engagement. I've already written about the extent to which engagement needs to replacement impressions as a new metric in new media. Neuromarketing takes engagement to a whole new plane, transforming what's now a very binary conversations (interested or disinterested) into highly precise questions of just what level of engagement took place, and what kind of engagement happened. With that kind of precision, of course, comes much richer data to work with. The ultimate idea would be to match laughs, cries, or shouts an ad produced to the bottom line.

2.   The Evolution of the view-through. If you have smarter engagement metrics, you also have a much more nuanced view of the "engagement path" that consumers took on the way to a conversion. Among other benefits, that means the potential for a view-through that weights impressions leading up to the conversion by true level and type of engagement.

3.   Media mix. Yes, neuromarketing has been highly focused on the emotional impact ad creatives, as well as product design. But it's worth noting that biometric studies have also been applied to understand the impact of the media channels themselves. IPG's Media Lab, for instance, has leveraged Affectiva facial scan technology to learn how consumers interact with TV. Questions of the emotional impact of a particular channel, of course, are the kind of issue that means a lot of media planning -- and I'd guess that, one day, we'll be able to plan and optimize whole campaigns around emotional metrics.

4.   Audience buying. Someday, we'll be able to target people based on the emotional profiles we've gathered-it will become another demographic profile to work off of. Great news for purveyors of emotionally-driven products (everything from music to self-help books), but once we can tie the numbers together, there are scores of other opportunities here as well.

It's important to note here that, for now, biometric marketing and neuromarketing are working on the level of individual creatives and measurement panels -- not immediate correlations tying an individual ad served back to an individual emotional response. But we're also still in the beginnings of the new field. Plus, you needn't look further than the smartphone to see how much closer we're all becoming to our devices every day -- with obvious implications for more automatic emotional response measurement of the impact of ads. I don't think it will be so long before the biometrically measured response stands along the click as a measure of ad impact. That's a powerful opportunity -- and it's only a matter of time before it starts to reach full potential.

We can let the new developments take us off-guard, or we can start thinking hard about all of this this now. I say we all get out in front of it. Marketers, start you neurons.

3 comments about "Are Your Analytics Neuromarketing-Ready?".
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  1. Elmer Rich iii from Rich & Co., August 17, 2011 at 3:59 p.m.

    At this point, neuromarketing has just been born and is mainly a messy, random and very needy discipline or actually hope for a discipline.

    It is all sales tactics with, effectively, zero empirical or evidence-based proof of concept, let alone, that it works.

    However, it is new, kicky and fun to write about. For example, the statement: "NeuroFocus, a neuromarketing firm that replaces focus groups with brain imaging, and has achieved great success for a client roster ranging from Intel to PepsiCo." Is there independently validated proof of these claims? No.

    If neuromarketing is to be proven to work it will likely take decades of hard, mainly disappointing, work to eek out some tools. Maybe.

    However, overpromising headlines are a lot easier to come up with an fun. If misleading.

  2. Ron Wright from Sands Research Inc., August 17, 2011 at 4:12 p.m.

    Bill -

    Thanks for an insightful article. Contrary to Elmer's comments, the field is growing fast, the largest advertisters have programs in place (and some have built their own labs) and the application of cognitive neuroscience has expanded into providing new insights beyond ads to product design, useability and shopper behavior (recording EEG and Eye-tracking while freely shopping in a retail environment).

    After two decades supporting university based cognitive neuroscience researchers, Sands Research is a pioneer in the growing field of neuromarketing.

    Ron Wright
    CEO / Sands Research Inc.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, August 17, 2011 at 5:18 p.m.

    If the point of advertising is to influence thoughts and actions to control buying products/services (from shelf spots to telling you all of your friends jump off the bridge), then how much more do you really want controlling what you think you want ?

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