In the world of advertising there has always been the dilemma of how to measure the effectiveness of a particular ad. A reader points us to a BusinessWeek article on how a few ad agencies are starting to use functional MRI machines to monitor, in real time, the brain’s response to commercials.
Neuromarketing uses state-of-the-art technologies such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), magneto-encephalography, and more conventional electroencephalograms (EEGs) to observe which areas of the brain “light up” when test subjects view, hear, or even smell products or promos. The activity of regions such as the nucleus accumbens, insula, and mesial prefrontal cortex give researchers insight into how consumers respond to specific stimuli.
“Emotions cannot necessarily be accurately described,” says Gemma Calvert, head of the Multisensory Research Group at Britain’s University of Bath and director of neuromarketing consultancy Neurosense in Oxford, England. Using brain scans, she says, “We can see the discrepancy between what you say and what your brain says, and reduce the margin of error.”
That’s what attracted Viacom Brand Solutions to experiment with neuromarketing. The London-based Viacom (VIA) subsidiary, which sells ads on the entertainment giant’s channels including MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Paramount Comedy, and E! Channel in Great Britain and Ireland, engaged Neurosense to measure the response of 18- to 30-year-old viewers to ads interspersed into episodes of cartoon comedy South Park. The two dozen subjects each spent an hour inside an fMRI scanner watching four programs while their brain activity was measured.
The Importance of Placement
The result? Advertisements for popular “alcopop” vodka beverage WKD from Torquay, England-based Beverage Brands elicited vigorous brain responses, while ads for the Red Cross and reliable old Tetley tea produced much less reaction. The takeaway, says Calvert, is that ads “congruent” with their environment outperform those that are “incongruent.”
Looks like they’re discovering something that has been long known.
More at BusinessWeek…