How Neuroscience Measures Ad Recall

Marketers searching for the secret sauce of how to “engage” with consumers and how to get them to associate specific ads with their brands can look to science for some clarity. All marketers want to know how to get into the “mind” of consumers.

In a blog post, Pandora revealed some insights from a study it conducted with Neuro-Insights, a firm that works on neuroscience-based research. The Stream of Consciousness Survey was conducted in October-November 2016, when 100 Pandora listeners, split equally between consumers ages 18 to 34 and 35-plus, were divided into groups of four and outfitted with Steady-State Topography (SST) hardware to measure the brain’s response to a simulated Pandora experience.

Each session consisted of 25 to 30 minutes of music personalized with songs from each participant’s favorite Pandora stations. Six pre-selected audio ads were mixed into the personalized music list while Neuro-Insight passively monitored brain responses.



“We hypothesized that ads served in a high-quality, personal, and emotive environment would lead to a superior neurometric response compared to the norms Neuro-Insight has established for other media types,” stated Keri Degroote, vice president of research & analytics at Pandora. “We were anxious to explore collecting data in this new way–and were even more encouraged by what it told us about the power of contextual relevance.”

Pandora found that ads served next to personalized, emotive content had greater resonance with the listener, leading to more memorable and engaging campaigns than what is typically found with  other media formats.

Three important findings emerged from the research:

--Audio ads served within Pandora’s personalized environment were 49% more memorable than Neuro-Insight’s established norms for a terrestrial radio spot.

--Audio ads in the study served within Pandora’s personalized environment were 36% more memorable than Neuro-Insight’s established norms for a TV commercial.

--Audio ads in the study served within Pandora’s personalized environment were 29% more memorable than Neuro-Insight’s established norm for a mobile video ad.

The findings make sense. Listening to music that you’ve personalized (created your own station, etc.), you’re going to be more open, relaxed, and your senses are heightened. Specific songs take you back to specific experiences and emotions. So if you hear an ad in that kind of environment, you may be more responsive. You may recall the ad message.

For its part, Pandora said the study confirmed its belief in the power of personalized, emotive content to increase advertising effectiveness. It found that the quality of adjacent content is just as important as the quality of the ad itself. On a subconscious level, consumers responded well to content served in an environment that’s personally relevant and taps into their emotions.

Scientific methods like this one, using brain science, will increasingly be used to measure consumers' reactions to advertising and other forms of content.

1 comment about "How Neuroscience Measures Ad Recall".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 13, 2017 at 2:19 p.m.

    Tobi, did they actually measure ad recall from the same respondents or are the "memorability" findings based on an interpretation of the brainwave results?

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