Neuromarketing Science & Business Association (NMSBA)

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  • March 29, 2018 17:29 | Carla Nagel (Administrator)

    Youth and Social Networks

    Understanding emotional impact through implicit testing

    by Cristina de Balanzo (Walnut Ltd)

    The proportion of young people accessing social networking sites has almost reached saturation point, with as many as 30% of 16-24 year-olds in the UK classed as super high users of social media, accessing networks 10+ times per day on average. This activity is also diversifying with the increasing volume of social media sites available; social networkers typically access 5.6 different social media sites in a month. Often described as “digital natives”, growing up in an always on world, social networks form a significant part of young people’s lives and act as an important source of socialization. But what is the relationship between young people and social networks? Are some more important to them than others? What types of conversations and engagements are they looking for on these different networks?

    Understanding where and how to engage with young people on social networks raises important questions, particularly for brands and companies that are looking to have meaningful conversations and build relationships with young people. At Walnut Unlimited we wanted to understand the nature of the emotional connection young people (18-24 year-olds) have with the social networking sites they use and explore and what this means for brands and companies trying to build meaningful connections with young people through these networks.

    The specific research questions we were looking to test were:
    1. What emotional connections do young people have with social networks?
    2. Are all young people the same? Specifically, do differences exist between 18-20 year-olds and 21-24 year-olds?
    3. Should brands use the same content to engage with young people on all networks?

    In 2014, we invited 160 social media users, aged between 18 and 24 years old, to take part in a short online survey consisting of a series of questions about social media usage that included an implicit test. The implicit test measures the speed of response between a specific social media site and a particular attribute or statement, e.g. Facebook is for me. This can be used to understand both the explicit response, i.e. whether they agree or disagree that Facebook is for them, and also the strength of the connection by measuring the implicit reaction. The faster the response, the stronger the connection in the brain between the brand and the particular statement, indicating that greater emotional certainty exists between the social media site and the particular attribute. As the connected generation, this approach was chosen as it allows for a very quick online test. Given the high diversity of using different networking sites we also anticipated that there would be little variation between the brands on an explicit level only. Therefore, using an implicit test allowed a deeper understanding of the emotional connection of young people with the selected social networks.

    For this implicit test we presented three social media networks to respondents; Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. For each brand, respondents were asked to answer as quickly as possible, whether they agreed or disagreed that the given attribute described the social media brand presented. The attributes used were: ‘for me’, ‘to express myself’, ‘trustworthy’, ‘for young people’, ‘understands my needs and reliable’.

    On the explicit, declared-response level, with the exception of YouTube ‘being for me’, there appears  to be little difference in how young people perceive the three social media networks, with similar levels of agreement that Twitter, Facebook and YouTube allow them to ‘express themselves’, ‘is for young people’, ‘spontaneous’ and ‘keeps me informed’

    However, looking at the implicit speed of response scores, we see that there are distinct differences in the strength of connection that young people have with particular social networks. There is consistency with the explicit responses for YouTube and ‘for me’, whereby the emotional reaction reflects the high % agreement at the explicit level. But there are also differences identified by the implicit data. Fast responses are seen for YouTube being for young people, to express myself and understands my needs. YouTube being ‘for young people’, ‘to express myself’ and ‘understands my needs’. Facebook is also rated as ‘being to express myself’ with a strong level of conviction amongst young people. For Twitter, there is a strong connection ‘for young people’ for it being ‘trustworthy’ and is also rated for ‘understanding my needs’ for a passionate minority.

    Looking at YouTube more closely, we see that differences exist between 18-20 year-olds and 21-24 year-olds in their connection with YouTube. The 18-20 year-olds are driven by the affinity with YouTube for ‘to express myself’, ‘for me’ and ‘understands my needs’.

    “18-20 year-olds have a stronger emotional connection with YouTube than 21-24 year-olds.” YouTube has the highest affinity with young people, and shows the strength of brand values, for me, for young people, and understands my needs. All of which relate to a sense of identity, that YouTube is seen as part of their lives and has become a friend and trusted advisor. 

    However not all young people are the same: without using reaction-time tools, the differences between 18- 20 year-olds and 21-24 year-olds would have otherwise remained hidden and a conclusion could have been that activity targeted via YouTube should have the same effect on both age groups –whereas this is not the case. 18-20 year-olds have a stronger emotional connection with YouTube than 21-24 year-olds. 

    These results demonstrate the deeper layer of insight that neuroscience tools can provide by going beyond what people outwardly declare, and can be used in addition to traditional research techniques. This type of research helps to inform brands where to engage with young people but also, and perhaps more importantly, how the content should be tailored across
    diff erent social networks. YouTube has the potential for building longer term engagement for brands and might be an eff ective place to partner with a brand ambassador to engage with young people (particularly 18-20 year-olds) whereas Twitter, seen as trustworthy, should be used for more informative messaging.

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2016. Liked it? Order the Neuromarketing Yearbooks now!

  • February 07, 2018 09:53 | Carla Nagel (Administrator)

    “The Super Bowl Is All About Excitement!”

    Commentary by Elissa Moses, CEO, Ipsos Neuro and Behavioral Science Center (and advertising veteran)

    There is lots of commentary on the Super Bowl 2018 ads, but few take an internal view of the consumer psyche when it comes to responding nonconsciously. Ipsos did a live audience Super Bowl Party/Study where a theater full of football fans were equipped with the latest Shimmer Biometric technology to capture their emotional reactions in real time. They ate, they drank (one beer per quarter) they came with friends and they texted naturally on social media. They hooted and hollered and let us know their reactions to every Super Bowl ad from the break before kick-off to the break after the final score.

    Th result is that we see a different pattern than a lot of the surveys that report on conscious response to survey questions or with dials. This is because the GSR measure is in real time and quicker than our editorial impressions.  If an ad excites us, whether we like it or not, the measures do not lie and similarly, for instance, if an ad is a well-intended “do gooder” but still a snooze, we can’t escape the revelation.

    When we put our “Ipsos Super Score” together based on the biometrics, we took into consideration what a Super Bowl ad is supposed to do. Because not all ads have the same objectives.  Some aim to reinforce preference, some have a call to action, others hope to change perceptions. And yet Super Bowl ads are in a class by themselves. Super Bowl ads aim to excite! The Super Bowl game is America’s biggest spectator competition (bigger than our elections) and the ads pit brand against brand as well. Coke vs. Pepsi; McDonalds vs. Wendy’s and every brand against every other brand as they strive to get share of attention, emotion and buzz.

    So, biometrics are an especially apt System 1 method for Super Bowl ad testing because, with the latest Shimmer advancements, they can, measure a full audience simulltaneuosly, provide in-context response (not just the Super Bowl ads, but viewed during the Super Bowl), aggregate data in real time and measure the essence of what drives a Super Bowl ad win from the perspective of measuring what is called technically arousal – in other words, emotional response along an excitement continuum. This is not to say that biometrics can determine if people are persuaded to buy more Alexa’s or make more Ameritrade’s. But it is likely to predict if brands succeed at being top of mind and favorably perceived because they stirred the senses, made people laugh, shocked them or sweetly entertained. The way an ad “wins the Super Bowl”, and in doing so bestows public and professional respect upon the advertised brand, is through generating excitement as measured by GSR. This means at the beginning of the ad (‘hook effect”), throughout the ad (“sustain effect”), at the end of the ad (“brand effect”) - - super important because that’s when the brand almost always gets shown and ultimately can take that excitement to great heights (what we call the “max peak effect”.)

    Hence when we look at the SB ads with the highest Ipsos Biometric Super Scores, we are acknowledging ads that did well on most of these aspects.  Let’s look at the top performers form the 2018 game from a neuro perspective.

    #1 Tide Ad “It's Yet Another Tide Ad” - - Clydesdales & Mr. Clean - - Ipsos Super Score 92.8

    This was the 3rd of 4 Tide ads throughout the game, and we suspect (based on overheard comments) that some didn’t completely understand the first one, initially. But by the time the 2nd or 3rd one came around, it seems that the audience was fully invested in the joke, and it did not fail to deliver. From the perspective of behavioral science, advertising strategy and neuro research, we conclude that this Tide campaign is a virtuoso as it succeeds at imprinting the audience with the brand and nudges viewers to think about Tide in ads that had nothing to do with Tide through the power of association. It proclaims that Tide stands for clean clothes and that every time viewers see clean clothes, they are seeing advertising for Tide. This is as if they were able to crystallize a distinctive brand asset on the spot. The campaign also simultaneously works on brand reinforcement for other P&G brands, all while causing peak arousal and deep laughter. Moreover, in a crowded ad field with ads of unusually long length (the Alexa ad was 90 seconds), Tide succeeded in winning against all the other ads on arousal with a 15 second ad. Additionally, it should be mentioned that two of the other Tide campaign ads placed in the top twenty ranking 7th and 12th respectively. What a campaign! Brilliant.

    #2 NFL “Touchdown Celebrations to Come” -  - “Dirty Dancing Spoof” - - Ipsos Super Score 92.5

    If the Tide ad levitated to #1 because of strategic acumen and humor, the NFL ad was #2 due likely to pure heart and humor. It also had the additional secret weapon which is leveraging a well-beloved song. Advertisers cannot underestimate the power of music to uplift, grab attention and make consumers feel more open to messaging. Add to this, well-loved familiar NFL players, self-effacing behavior (guys dancing with each other) and an incredible leap that defies both gravity and perceived strength and we have a “touchdown” in the world of ads. Watching these guys dance was pure entertainment and the resulting scores indicated an audience emotional payoff.

    #3 M&M’s - - “Human” - - Ipsos Super Score 88.1

    Somehow it just seems entirely credible that if ever there was a person turned into an M&M (as people were turned into candelabras and candle sticks in Beauty and the Beast,) that the M&M associated person would naturally be Danny DeVito. The charm of this casting along with the empathy we feel for him now being freed from the desire to be devoured makes for great, almost fairy tale, story-telling. And yet, his fate is to be hit by a truck, although not apparently hurt (thank goodness.) The literal whammy of the last 5 seconds in this already arousing ad is what drives it to biometric Super Score greatness. No other SB ad achieved as high a peak in the last 5 seconds as “Human.”

    #4 Ameritrade - - “All Night Long” - - Ipsos Super Score 82.4

    Here is another ad that cleverly leverages insight into how the brain works. We want to complete things. We are conditioned to have closure on associations and right answers. When we forget a name, it drives us crazy until we can think of it and in this ad, we are stirred up wanting resolution because the neurons are firing - - Lionel Ritchie = “All Night Long.” Advertising and marketing strategists have to appreciate the choice of song that nails the key message that at Ameritrade you can even trade “all night long” and is hugely popular, recognizable and evergreen. Yes, it is a celebrity and music ad, but paying for both doesn’t guarantee results. What made this ad work so well we believe is the seamless integration of the right message association and the brain teaser of incompletion.

    #5 Universal Movie Trailer - - Skyscraper- - Ipsos Super Score 79.6

    One could argue that an ad for a Duane Johnson movie trailer excerpt for 45 seconds of bullets, flying, flames blazing and leaps off a tall building into free fall has an unfair advantage in a competitive Super Bowl ad comparison. But hey! That’s reality. And in the media world, everything competes with everything for share of attention and connection. This ad is a prime example of maximizing assets to tell an exciting story that holds excitement and builds to a climax. “Skyscraper” had a high average arousal, a high max peak and strong excitement at the end. Moreover, it’s mission is to sell excitement as the KPI for the film, so it’s positioning was on the line.

    Additional Thoughts

    Some of the ads we loved the most, didn’t make it to the top 20 on the Ipsos Super Score Biometric Ranking. A couple of things should be noted. 1. The Super Score is a score about arousal. Did the ad get people emotionally stirred and therefore breakthrough on having an experiential impact? Given that this is the goal of most SB ads, being able to tell which ones thrilled and chilled is highly relevant. But we also know that there are many components to what drives effective advertising and some of these things like brand relevance and motivation were not measured. 2. First viewing is when a commercial has the highest potential to excite an audience. But when the strategy used it to publically preview the SB ads ahead of time to create buzz, other objectives are reached perhaps at the expense of measurable in-game context excitement. It all depends on the brand’s goals and media strategy.

    Also regarding biometrics for this purpose, it is remarkable how a nonconscious response using GSR can be reliably applied to an audience in situation with a robust signal allowing for movement and natural behavior. Moreover, the results can be aggregated and reported in almost real-time. Hence this method was uniquely suited for the application and enabled us to objectively and reliably report on nonconsious response to the ads in the game on a relative basis.

    Ipsos Super Bowl 2018 - - Top 20 Biometric “Super Score” Ad Ranking







    It's Yet Another Tide Ad [Clydesdales & Mr. Clean]





    Touchdown Celebrations to Come










    All Night Long 





    Skyscraper (Movie)





    Who Wouldn’t





    It's Yet Another Tide Ad Again [Tennis]




    Tourism Australia






    Jeep Jurassic










    Mission Impossible: Fallout (Movie)





    It's Another Tide Ad [Old Spice]





    Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Movie)





    Alexa Loses Her Voice





    A Quiet Place (Movie)









    Doritos / Mountain Dew

    Blaze Vs. Ice





    Make It Happen




    Persil ProClean

    Game Time Stain Time





    Feel Something Again



    About the Author

    Elissa Moses leads the global Ipsos Neuro and Behavioral Science Center.  The Center develops nonconscious measurement tools for understanding engagement and emotion of the brand experience for integration into client research. Ipsos offers several Neuro/Behavioral Science measures worldwide including EEG, Biometrics, Facial Coding, Implicit Reaction Time, and Eye Tracking.

    For more information contact

  • January 11, 2018 17:19 | Anonymous

    By Dr. Yener Girisken (ThinkNeuro)

    Unilever approached ThinkNeuro with the aim of identifying “happy” and “unhappy” points of the shopping experience and sharing this knowledge with the retailers, so that the implementation of the optimizations would create a happier shopping environment, which, in turn, will increase sales. They were also eager to understand where consumers look, how they feel when they see a certain product, when they are closer to buying, how the shelves should be planned… etc. The best way to answer these questions was to reach unconscious reactions and to conduct ShopperNeuroTM research.

    Understanding Shopper Happiness

    The aim was to understand shopper “happiness” and “unhappiness” points within the supermarket. Since the buying decision is mostly triggered unconsciously and measuring emotions with claimed data is misleading, shopper dynamics were to be revealed by using consumer neuroscience techniques. ShopperNeuroTM research was, therefore, conducted to understand unconscious shopper reactions within the supermarket. Understanding the most effective shelf plan for different categories, the most efficient layout for shoppers’ decision processes, the effect of POP materials and secondary displays, the relationship between the shopper and the staff… etc. were also part of the research.

    The project took place in five different chain stores (discount, hypermarket, local, national, personal care chains). The research was conducted with 120 volunteers who were aged between 18-50, belonged to A,B,C1, C2 SES groups and 70% were female.

    It was critical to conduct the research in real-life conditions since the aim was finding “happiness” and “unhappiness” touch points during the real shopping experience with a holistic approach, taking every detail into consideration, for example other shoppers, smell, impulse buying, feel of the floor tiles… etc. With the help of simultaneous use of EEG and eye tracking during real experience, shopper gaze points and their emotional reactions were revealed. Each increase and decrease in their emotional bond was recorded throughout the experience. In addition, neuroscores based on in-depth interviews were conducted with all participants to show their unconscious reactions during the experience. Therefore, the reasons behind changes in each participant’s emotional bond were explored in one-to-one interviews. With the analysis of each participant’s brain data along with eye tracking, emotional patterns were clustered to create “happiness” points. Common explanations behind these points were thus identified. The action plan was designed for each step in the experience from entrance to exit.


    Significant findings affecting shopper experience were revealed with neuro measurements and neuroscore based in-depth interviews. Findings regarding pack colors, types, shelf plans and store layouts were shared. Detailed suggestions for in-store employees including the use of words, sentence structures, body language and gestures were presented. The optimum use of POP materials, secondary displays, in-store scents were identified. When, where and how to make what kind of promotion was communicated. The effects of variety, not finding the right product and privacy were indicated

    The findings were shared with the retailers who had contributed to Unilever’s “win-win” strategy. This study provided support for the retail channel to take actions to increase shopping frequency and number of shoppers by making the shopping experience more joyful and happier. The shared insights led to a more positive relationship with the retailers. In addition, the awareness of neuroscience in the retail industry increased.

    In line with the findings of the project, concrete steps were taken in sales channels to increase customer satisfaction and secondary display positioning were reviewed within the framework of the research findings. Unilever made revisions to various items of product packaging. As a result of the findings, alternative stimulus was tested and the most favorable packaging, from a consumer perspective, was adopted.

    Unilever reviewed its in-store promotional “push-girls” communication language and style. Also, they revised the in-store visuals based on the research findings in 1370 national and local retail stores which they called “perfect point”. Insights of the study were shared in Unilever’s Global Shopper Network Platform. The results of the project were presented to the company’s customer development team with the participation of different countries, and then rolled out to even more countries.

    The Differences in Grocery Shopping Between Men and Women

    It was found that, when it comes to grocery shopping, men and women have different motivations aligned with human evolution. As nurturer and gatherers, women tend to look through options and scan the alternatives to find the “best of breed” product for their family. However, as hunters, men tend to “hit and run”. While women value variety, opportunity and “new”; men seek familiar products which aid their fast decision-making.

    In addition, creating the perception of variety is very important since the lack of it leads shoppers to feel deceived and trapped.

    Shopper experience is the crystallization point of a brand’s communication investments and product performance. Yet, this area remained a black box for a long time since it was not possible to measure shoppers’ unconscious processes - the main driver in the buying decision. Today, with the help of the consumer neuroscience research techniques, it is possible to detect shoppers’ emotional reactions during their real experience and to understand the reasons behind these reactions. This new field that is made possible by neuro research provides many opportunities for retailers and brands to improve in store experience.

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2016. Liked it? Order the Neuromarketing Yearbooks now!

  • November 16, 2017 16:37 | Carla Nagel (Administrator)

    By Juan Roberto Castro

    Speed up sales in an apartment building project

    Understanding how consumers associate the design of an apartment building with positive experiences and memories to influence the purchase decision.

    Guatemalan real estate developer Landmark, asked us to design a new concept for a highly competitive new apartment scheme. The aim was to offer a truly alternative building concept appealing immediately and differently to our specific target prospects.  

    Three specific aims were established:

    1. Defining the optimal target profile but more importantly understanding how to engage interest versus competitor projects 
    2. Understanding drivers and consumer insights (mindsets) that increase the relative perceived value of our project 
    3. Finding unique priming positive memory associations that boost engagement and emotional activation toward the location and concept.


    We sought to understand non-conscious perceptions, priming associations and sensorial communication language (architecture typology, shape and spatial distribution, colors, textures, internal and external public spaces and sale price).

    Phase 1

    Conducting psychometrical research that includes:

    a) Bezinger Thinking Styles Assessment (BTSA) to determine natural communication language of brain dominance.

    b) Mindset assessment to understand the belief systems governing their “life laws” and decision-making. 

    c) “Fear Assessment” to reveal lifestyle aspirations for their children 

    d) Pain & Relief assessment to uncover architectural elements, inside home areas, plan, size, spacing that they would miss most in a new place. Understanding what triggers in or out of their “comfort zone”, and which areas from their current home they’d hope to retain. 

    e) Experiences with parents of fondly recalled games at weekends, especially in winter when youngsters.

    f) Materials, color, texture well remembered from their childhood homes. 

    g) Words or expressions remembered being used with neighborhood friends.

    Three samples of 20 “Generation X” parents (husband & wife) were selected to undertake psychometric assessments (see above). Five couples were also tested using an Eye Tracker and EEG set. The aim was to establish mindsets, habits, home-living space preferences, neighbor, street and family house games and all kind of priming associations related to their upbringing, including colors, textures, smells and other relevant positive experiences and memories.

    The key finding was that each respondent had the game “ONE” as the most positive family memory; it induced the highest engagement and emotional activation and was the one they played as kids with their mom or dad, one on one.

    We also found two influential fears that were key drivers to include in the project design to increase purchase preference and choice: 

    1º. Fear that what I am and do for my family is not enough for them to make them feel loved. 

    2º. Fear of the future and of not being able to off er my kids the same or more of what I have had from my parents.

    Phase 2

    Creating the project concept and validating it with NeuroEquity TestTM and a Sensory Load Chart. Via eye-tracking, EEG and face-reading we gained deeper insight into human emotional reactions. The NeuroEquity TestTM measured direct, unconscious emotional responses to stimulus. Participants viewed stimulus on-screen and iMotions software enabled us capture the measurements. The NeuroEquity Test TM measures directly from the brain. In this way, it is an eff ect measure of “gut reactions”, and, in our view, serves as the most precise measure of unconscious concept project equity.

    We also used the Sensory Load Chart to readily access perception of competitors’ concepts across all five senses, enabling detection of sensory niches for our project and leveraging through marketing and sales strategy.

    Collaborating closely with a graphic designer and a Generation X architecture fi rm, we developed the entire concept from architecture to marketing and sales strategy- a unique, emotion-centric approach.

    To test the concept proposal we designed the NeuroEquity Test TM and the Sensory Load Chart where participants saw designs, facades, interiors, logos, names and different prices together with a preview video of the project concept to evaluate the emotional response to different types of experiences induced.

    All our Neurometric Tests rely on scientifi cally validated methods and most of them, like the NeuroEquity Test TM and the Sensory Load Chart, are based on the work by Dr. Thomas Z. Ramsøy, Phd.


    Success depended on triggering key emotional memories, whilst marketing and sales needed to be at the core of project conceptualization and architectural considerations. To optimize strategy, we focused from the outset on maximizing engagement and purchase intent with the primary target consumer.

    As a result, we designed an architectural product or brand that used an unconscious language geared to a specific market segment. Urban design, facades, public spaces, apartment floor plan distribution, colors and textures used and marketing, sales and pricing strategies were each validated in the process, which increased confidence and certainty in the project acceptance and minimized the risk of investment. In November 2015 after barely four months of pre-sales, the project was 50% (120 units) sold, selling 15 units per month more than any competitor.


    Our applied neuroscience on architecture design and project conceptualization delivers big advantages to any kind of project because it focuses on the development of specific targets and has fewer risks of hitting the same market as the competitors.

    Thanks to successful projects like this one, we believe we are innovating the way neuroscience can be applied in different industries, especially real state developments and architecture design.

    This is one of several studies that has been conducted for clients, where the goal has been to understand the language of associative and perceptive consumer communication that is non-consciously relevant to preference and top-of-mind purchase choice. Psychometric and neurometric tools have been used in all of our projects to ensure that the final product achieves the established aims of affecting the commercial investment, cash fl ow and equity exposure.

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing Yearbook of 2016. Liked it? Order the 2017 Neuromarketing Yearbook now!

  • September 14, 2017 16:59 | Anonymous

    By Michael E. Smith

    Much like the old parable from India about a group of blind men and an elephant, the different measurement methods commonly used in consumer neuroscience research can each provide useful insight into how audiences respond to marketing messages. But not one approach provides a complete picture of the nature of the beast. In order to circumvent the limitations imposed by individual measurement methods, we have been experimenting with a more holistic approach, one that applies a variety of methods to evaluate marketing communications.

    Our initial focus for this integrated approach has been video advertising. Video advertising remains a powerful way for marketers to reach large audiences and to drive ROI. While the landscape for video advertising has changed dramatically in recent years, especially with digital providers creating avenues beyond just broadcast, one truism remains: executed well, video advertising remains a great opportunity to engage consumers and to build brand allegiance. Executed poorly, video ads just contribute to a cluttered media landscape. In an effort to improve consumer insights for video advertising and help advertisers increase ROI, we have been developing breakthrough methods for combining neurometric, biometric, eye tracking, facial coding and self-reports to create unprecedented diagnostic richness.  

    To illustrate this integrative approach, we will outline here their application to a public service advertisement (PSA). For several years Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience has provided pro bono services to the Ad Council, a private, US-based, non-profit organization that marshals volunteer talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities to deliver critical messages to the public on issues such as improving the quality of life for children, preventive health, education, community well-being and strengthening families. Please see the NMSBA 2015 Neuromarketing Yearbook, p 14-15 for a prior example of this collaboration

    In the current project we applied a suite of diagnostic tools to evaluate the effectiveness of advertisements from the Ad Council’s “Fatherhood Involvement” campaign. These PSAs seek to inspire and support men in their commitment to responsible fatherhood. The PSAs communicate to fathers that their presence is essential to the well-being of their children. The campaign also directs audiences via a final call-to-action to a URL and a toll-free phone number for parenting tips and other resources.

    The current case focuses on one of the ads from a broader effort, a 0:30 second PSA entitled “Cheerleader”. This humorous ad shows a father running through his grade-school daughter’s cheerleading routine to help her to practice. While participants (all fathers) viewed the ad, a variety of measurements were made, including measurements of central- (whole head EEG recordings) and autonomic- (GSR and heart rate) nervous system responsivity. Measurements of overt behavior including eye tracking and facial expressiveness were also recorded, and post-viewing articulated measures of understanding and liking were also captured. The ad won a Bronze Lion at the 2009 Cannes Festival and inspired a Facebook page. It can be seen here:

    The PSA itself begins with an older woman sitting by herself in an apartment, scowling as she hears loud noises from outside. The camera pans outside to reveal a large man enthusiastically engaged in a cheerleader song-and-dance, and then down to reveal his small daughter following along with her father’s example. After the midpoint a voiceover intones, “the smallest moments can have the biggest impact on a child’s life.” The pair repeat the cheer and voiceover segues to a call-to-action that invites the viewer to call a number or visit a website to learn more. Consistent with the past popular and creative success of the PSA, participants rated the ad as highly likable on a post-viewing questionnaire.

    The implicit measures of viewer response (see accompanying figure) paint a more complex picture of engagement. The biometric “Engagement” trace reveals peaks of autonomic arousal for the reveal of the cheerleading father and daughter, and for the closing sequence. The “EEG Engagement” trace, computed from EEG-based measures of approach motivation, memorability, and attentiveness, shows a more complex series of peaks while the viewers build a mental model of the ad narrative. Facial coding suggests participants first mirror negative emotion like that of the woman in the apartment, are surprised when the father is revealed as cheerleader, and are amused or happy during the closing sequence.

    Differences between methods are also of key interest. The faster changes in the EEG suggest it may provide a more granular basis for making scene-level diagnostics. Furthermore, the directionality of emotional expression provided by the facial coding results may improve interpretation of the EEG and biometric responses. However, it is important to also note responses observed in the EEG trace in the absence of systematic changes in facial expressions, suggesting that FACs in isolation may miss significant neural changes.

    A variety of methods were used here to provide an integrated view of audience response. Results suggest that this integrative approach provides valuable information above and beyond what such techniques provide in isolation. While biometrics and neurometrics provide detailed scene-level diagnostic information, more obvious measures such as that provided by facial coding and eye tracking can sometimes provide additional input concerning the viewer’s implicit emotional response and the specifi c aspects of scenes driving that response. Together with articulated reports these techniques collectively provide a route for envisioning a more holistic picture of the audience response to advertising.

    “So, oft in theologic wars
    The disputants, I ween,
    Rail on in utter ignorance Of what each other mean,
    And prate about an Elephant
    Not one of them has seen!”


    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing Yearbook of 2016. Liked it? Order the 2017 Neuromarketing Yearbook now!

  • September 08, 2017 17:01 | Carla Nagel (Administrator)

    by Peter Steidl

    When consumers enjoy shopping and are keen to explore what is available, maybe do some window shopping, try clothes on, look at displays, find out more about some new and interesting products or services, they are Going Shopping. As they enjoy Going Shopping they may even go with friends or family members, they may make the shopping expedition part of a nice time out, have a coffee or some food, chat about interesting things. They are happy to invest time, effort and money in this shopping expedition and want to get a great experience in return. They typically want to discover exciting options, so they are open to engaging with products, displays, or any in-store activities that will help them to discover new possibilities. They love new news and are likely to share any exciting discoveries with people they know - on-line, over the phone or face-to-face.

    When consumers are Doing the Shopping, on the other hand, they are simply completing a chore. The shopping has to be done, but they really don't expect to enjoy it. This means that they want to spend as little time as possible on the process, they don't want to invest more effort than is necessary, and they are keen to spend as little money as they can. Doing the Shopping is typical for repeat purchases, such as the weekly grocery shopping excursion that needs to be done but which, because of its repetitiveness, does not promise much excitement. Many men feel this way about shopping for new clothes - it may have to be done, but they begrudge having to do it. When consumers are Doing the Shopping they are largely only receptive to messages that allow them to complete the task faster, at lower cost, or with less effort. Their goal is to complete the - typically unrewarding - shopping expedition as quickly and effectively as they can.

    Clearly, consumers are in a very different mood depending on whether they are Going Shopping or Doing the Shopping.

    The same principles apply to the online environment. When consumers go online to explore – to ‘surf the web' - they are receptive to messages and open to new news, suggestions and engagement opportunities. For example, they may visit their favorite social media site to check if anything has happened since their last visit - has anyone responded to their post, do they have any more `likes', has any-one left them a message? Or they may go online to explore what's happening in the world of fashion, potential holiday destinations, ideas for what to do next weekend, or whatever else. Given that they are in 'explorer' mode they are more likely to click on a banner ad, follow a lead or visit a website that is somehow brought to their attention - mainly if these opportunities appear to be relevant to their current explorations, but also if they look particularly engaging or potentially entertaining.

    Alternatively, when consumers are looking for the answer to a particular question - an address, an outlet, a price, or whatever it may be - their goal is to find specific information, and anything that al-lows them to find what they are looking for faster or with less effort is welcome, but they are less likely to be distracted by ads or links for unrelated matters.

    This is, of course, just common sense and it is common practice to serve ads that relate to the topic of the consumer's search, often informed by that consumer's search history, purchase records and other information that may be available.

    What is largely being ignored, however, is the opportunity sharing content offers. When consumers share content they get a dopamine release and are in a positive and often expectant mood which makes them more receptive to any ads, engagement opportunities or messages that relate to the shared content. 


    The above text is published in 'Neuromarketing Essentials' by Peter Steidl. Steidl is a keynote presenter at the Shopper Brain Conference in Amsterdam this autumn. His book 'Neuromarketing Essentials' is a free gift to all delegates of that event. Hope to see you there!

  • August 08, 2017 11:32 | Carla Nagel (Administrator)

    According to the World’s Health Organization’s report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic (2011,) a third of the global adult population smokes, which results in five million smoking-related deaths per year worldwide. It is estimated that by the year 2030, this number will increase to eight million deaths annually. What is more, the addiction affects not only smokers, but also those around them, as more than 600.000 people die each year from second-hand smoking. Even so, smoke-free laws, such as prohibiting smoking in all indoor areas, protect only 16% of the world’s population.

    Bearing in mind the health and well-being of people around the world, our community at Neuromarketing Science & Business Association (NMSBA) has decided to address this matter by initiating the Neuro Against Smoking (NAS) Project - a cross-country study dedicated to health issues. The goal was to check what the true impact is and effectiveness of anti-tobacco warnings presented on cigarette packs across the globe and to show that neuro measures can enrich research findings. We wanted to bring new, valuable insights to the existing discussion on cigarette warnings. Reaction Time, one of many tools used by NMSBA members, allows to explore consumers’ impulsive and automatic attitudes – something that can be crucial to fully understand how warning messages are working. 

    NMSBA members and high technologies to promote healthy lifestyle

    This pro-bono study has been directed at promoting healthy lifestyle, supporting the tobacco-free environment, thus aiding societies and governments in their fight against smoking. Initially we estimated that it would be a small project with four to six participating countries, yet the response to the initiative exceeded our wildest expectations. Finally, to our knowledge, this has been the world’s biggest international neuro study regarding health issues to date, with 24 participating and seven supporting countries being represented by companies and universities. The project has not only exemplified how neuromarketing techniques can be used for greater good, but has also highlighted the potential resulting from joint cooperation. It has been inspiring to see that so many people creating our community have had the world’s well-being at heart and have been willing to contribute their time and resources in order to pursue it.

    In the form of an on-line survey, the test was held in: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Panama, Poland, Romania, South Africa, Switzerland (DE+FR), Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.

    All neuro experts who represented the participating countries had access to the data obtained during the course of the study. This gave them an opportunity to gain valuable insight regarding e.g. differences between countries, cultural aspects affecting the perception of the packages, hypothetical explanations of why given warning messages worked or didn’t work well or what needed to improve in order for them to be more effective in the future.

    Identifying effective solutions to fight against smoking

    When designing the research, we paid close attention to the WHO’s recommendations stating that (1) warnings should cover minimum 30% of the package, (2) they can consist either of text only or text + picture, and (3) they can present various content - oriented on smokers or smokers and people around them. Being aware that all of the countries participating in the study followed different regulations concerning cigarette packages, we wanted to see what effect would it have if they were following the minimal requirements of the World Health Organization. We are planning to address country differences in next studies.

    We selected four different warning messages for testing presented on the figure below. Two of them were text only based warnings (left side on Fig.1) and the other two were picture-based (right side on Fig. 1). In each group, one of the warnings conveyed a message directed at the harm the smoker does to himself (upper row on Fig 1), and one directed at the harm he causes to others (bottom row on Fig. 1).

    Fig. 1. Warnings messages used in the Neuro Against Smoking (NAS) Project; According to WHO recommendations

    Since smoking is described as a pediatric disease, our study targeted young people within their first three years of legal age for purchasing cigarettes in a given country (50% women, 50% men; 50% hard smokers - smoke every day, more than five cigarettes per day; 50% light users - don’t smoke every day, less than ten cigarettes per week).

    Pictures showing harm done to others are more effective

    The study proves that pictorial messages are more effective than text only based warnings. Even if textual warnings were evaluated equally high in declarations as pictorial warnings, on an emotional level warnings containing pictures were more convincing, as revealed by Reaction Time measure. Moreover, it seems that warning messages emphasizing harm done to other people are more effective than messages emphasizing harm done to smokers’ health. Additionally, both of the findings seem to be strong and culturally independent as similar findings were discovered in most of the participating countries.

    These findings not only support actions initiated by the WHO – e.g. introducing pictorial warnings - but also suggest that pictorial messages should be carefully selected to maximize their effectiveness.

    Added value of NEURO tools

    Neuro Against Smoking study also shows that the data gathered solely thanks to explicit declarative methods provide clear insights only in 50% of cases. By clear insights we mean the scores that allow making a decision and selecting the more effective warning message. If we only relied on declarative responses, we would be able to select more effective warning messages in 50% of cases. Nevertheless, applying Reaction Time enriches this score significantly: over 25% additional insights can be derived thanks to combining explicit and implicit methods, therefore we could identify more effective solutions even if on declarative levels all options tested reach similar scores. It proves that application of combined explicit and implicit measures can be beneficial to find the most effective solution and identify drivers that have real impact on smokers’ behavior

    We hope that Neuro Against Smoking (NAS) project is not only the first study regarding health issues conducted on such scale and a wonderful example of joint cooperation, but that it will also be a stepping stone for similar studies in the future, where the potential of neuro methods can be used for a greater good.

    The NAS Study Was Performed by:

    Brain & Research, eQ, Eye on media, FGV Projetos, haystack, Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Leibniz University of Hannover, Marketing Sciences, Mindmetriks Colombia, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, NEUROHM, Profi ts Consulting Group, PromoVerGroup, Quantix Panama, RDG Insights, Rotterdam School of Management/ Erasmus University,, Sticky, Synergon Consulting, Synergy Marketing, Terragni Consulting, ThinkNeuro, Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften


    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing Yearbook of 2016. Liked it? Order the 2017 Neuromarketing Yearbook now!

  • June 15, 2017 13:04 | Carla Nagel (Administrator)

    By Diana Lucaci

    In today’s hyper-digitalized world, brands can reach and interact with consumers in more ways than ever. But when it comes to driving action, are all channels created equal? To find out, we partnered with Canada Post to examine the effectiveness of physical (direct mail) and digital (e-mail and display) advertising media by way of their impacts on the consumer’s brain. We focused on two key indicators of media effectiveness: ease of understanding and persuasiveness, to answer the question: has direct mail become ‘obsolete’ with modern day technology?

    Our aim was to elucidate consumer attitudes towards five types of direct mail: postcard, envelope, 3-dimensional mailer, 3-D mailer with sound, 3-D mailer with scent, and four types of digital media: e-mail on laptop, e-mail on smartphone, display ad on laptop, display ad on smartphone. To do this, we utilized electroencephalography (EEG) and eye-tracking techniques, paired with pre and post-exposure surveys of the promotional materials. This approach allowed us to combine consumer self-report measures with measures of the brain’s electrical activity, creating a composite measure of consumer attitudes towards common modes of advertising media.

    The study consisted of 270 participants. After completing a pre-exposure survey, participants were fitted with an EEG cap and eye-tracking glasses to record activity while they interacted with various forms of physical and digital media. We quantified three major variables: cognitive load, motivation and visual attention to gauge how a person felt about each mode of advertising. Cognitive load represented how easily a message could be understood, derived from EEG activity in the area of the prefrontal cortex. Motivation or a general measure of decision-making was identified by asymmetric activity in similar prefrontal regions. For our measure of visual attention, we turned to the eye-tracking data which indicated a participant’s scan path and how long they spent looking at any given area of the ad.

    Our hypothesis stated: Physical, direct mail is more action-oriented than digital media because its physical format stimulates the underlying mental processes that guide behavior. Direct mail is more effective in driving consumer action than digital advertising.

    Direct mail vs. social media

    As predicted, we found that direct mail is easier to understand and more memorable than digital media. It required 21% less cognitive eff ort to process and elicited higher brand recall (75% vs. 44%) as evidenced by the ‘cognitive load’ score and post-exposure memory tests.

    Similarly, direct mail proved more persuasive than digital mail, as shown by the ‘motivation’ score. Direct mail’s motivation score was 20% higher than digital’s score (6.77 vs. 5.52) – even more so when the advertisement appealed to additional senses beyond touch (i.e. sound, scent).

    In addition, direct mail was found to be visually processed more quickly than digital media. We examined the total time in milliseconds spent viewing the advertisement, as well as the average time spent on areas of interest (price, product, logo). The time spent on areas of interest for direct mail was less than digital media (4.8% of total time vs. 7.2%) but the retention was higher, suggesting more information was digested in less time.


    Direct, physical mail outperformed digital media on all three of our content evaluative variables: cognitive load, motivation and visual attention. By being processed in less time, having low cognitive load and high motivation scores, direct mail proved to be a more effective tool in driving consumer behavior than digital media. Direct mail taps into intrinsic neurological processes that trigger action. It also offers the creative versatility to amplify action by appealing to senses beyond touch. It is better suited than digital media to close the marketing-sales loop, or the gap between interaction and action.

    In a connected world, brands need both interaction and action. Perhaps, then, the secret to smarter marketing lies at the crossroads of physical and digital media. Fusing the two allows marketers to capitalize on the best of both interaction and action to drive customer relationships and sales.

    This study launched and fueled the new Canada Post imperative, SmartMail Marketing. We have elevated their business and created new channels of growth. This study is an example of how neuro can transform an entire organization.


    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing Yearbook of 2016. Liked it? Order the 2017 Neuromarketing Yearbook now!

  • May 17, 2017 15:03 | Carla Nagel (Administrator)

    By Serge Diekstra

    Are neuromarketing tools and research mostly suited for commercial companies? Or are these powerful instruments something we can or maybe even should use for non-profit goals as well?

    A video commercial called “Eerder is Beter”, which translates as “The sooner, the better” and has a length of about 60 seconds. It shows young people in the process of drowning in water while suffocating, panicking and unsuccessfully trying to call for help. The message of the commercial is that it is important to help young people with mental illnesses before something goes terribly wrong. One other goal of the organization is to reduce stigmatization of people with mental health problems. We decided to test the eff ectiveness of the commercial by means of Neurensics’ state of the art fMRI research methods.

    An fMRI study was conducted on the brain of the subjects (N=24), while they were watching the video inside the fMRI scanner. In order to be able to measure how a commercial or another marketing stimulus scores in terms of eff ectiveness, Neurensics has developed 13 fMRI ‘mappers’ for emotions that are related to the consumer’s behavioral change (see fi gure 1). Using proprietary methods, they have extracted multi-voxel networks from the human brain from which the reverse inference of these emotions is possible, a process they call mapping. On the basis of these neural mappers, Neurensics developed its unique 3D Brain Rating™ technology to determine the appreciation of all sorts of marketing stimuli, such as this commercial.

    The test subjects were exposed to the “The sooner, the better” commercial. Consequently, they measured which of the areas became active when the subjects viewed the commercial, and to what intensity, whereby they were able to produce a relative score of the effect of the commercial on the brain. The 3D Brain Rating™ method allowed them to trace the activation of brain dimensions – emotional and behavioral responses to marketing stimuli – that are related to buying behavior.

    More specifically, the 3D Brain Rating™ method measures 13 different emotions, classified in 4 main categories. These are (1) Positive emotions, which generally evoke or facilitate approach behavior, (2)

    Negative emotions, which generally evoke avoidance behavior (3) Personal Appeal, which generally strengthens the positive v negative emotional balance, and (4) General Impact, which generally strengthens all signals, evoking memory formation.


    We measured how the “The sooner, The Better” commercial scored in terms of eff ectiveness. The results of the fMRI study are plotted for the 13 emotions in the 3D Mindmap (see figure)

    The results show the video commercial stimulates negative emotions such as anger, fear and disgust. This indicates that feelings of aggressiveness, uncertainty and physical aversion are evoked by watching the commercial. Regarding positive emotions, both trust and expectation have an average score, but desire scores below average. This is an indication that the subjects had little feelings of wanting to “buy” the product, in this case the message.

    With regard to personal appeal, the low score on value indicates that the message of the video is not assessed as directly rewarding, and the low score on involvement indicates that the message of the commercial does not activate a sense of personal relevance. Furthermore, it can be stated that the general impact of the commercial is high; the high score on novelty indicates that the commercial evokes sense of newness, or has an element of surprise. Therefore, the signals are generally strengthened and memory formation is very likely.

    Such a combination of high irritability, low personal involvement and a high likelihood of memory formation can be very damaging to the goals of the advertiser. Due to the highly negative feelings about the commercial, it is very unlikely that subjects will take action in line with the goals of the commercial, but instead are very likely to remember the negative feelings now associated with the subject of the commercial (young people with mental health problems) as well as the non-profi t brand shown at the end. If people should see the “The Sooner, The Better” commercial multiple times, a negative association with people with mental health problems would likely be reinforced.


    Our findings underscore that neuromarketing research may be (even) more important for non-profits than initially thought. The combination of a lack of involvement, high memorization and significant negative emotions generated by viewing “The sooner, The better” commercial, make it likely that this advertisement contributes to stigmatization of young people with mental health problems, rather than reducing it, which is extremely worrisome. This study underlines the great value of neuromarketing research before publishing a marketing stimulus, especially when humanitarian goals are involved. As demonstrated, good intentions by non-profit organizations may in the end have significant negative effects on achieving their goal.

    More neuromarketing research into non-profit advertising is urgently needed to assess whether there are more non-profit campaigns with a humanitarian purpose that are actually backfiring, undermining and harming rather than helping. Specifically for mental health non-profits, the link between stigma and negative emotions elicited by campaigns like “The Sooner, The Better” is of critical importance. Stigma can cause people not to seek help for mental health problems, too often with deadly consequences.

    Generous grants: This research was made possible by funding from DiekstraOrangeWaterhouse Consultants, its shareholders, the generous support of the helpful team at Neurensics, as well as other donors.


    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing Yearbook of 2016. Liked it? Order the 2017 Neuromarketing Yearbook now!

  • April 27, 2017 14:52 | Carla Nagel (Administrator)

    By Dr. Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy (Neurons Inc., Denmark)

    What is the effect of prior exposure to advertising on in-store behavior? How does it impact activity and responses at the fixture? What underlies any changes in choice?

    Neurons Inc recently conducted a study (the manuscript is also currently in journal review). In our study, we used mobile eye-tracking and EEG to assess customers’ visual attention, emotional engagement and motivation after exposure to 15 sec / 30 sec ads for paint. We also correlated results with self-report feedback from respondents having completed the EEG and eye-tracking study.


    By showing ads prior to the in-store tasks, we found that both 15- and 30-seconds ads had a significant effect on actual in-store choice. When choosing paint, prior exposure to a paint ad ramped up the sales from 78% to 91% and 100% for the 15-seconds and 30-seconds ad, respectively (see figure 1).

    figure 1

    Interestingly, a careful step-wise debriefing interview after the in-store trial showed that customers were unaware that they had been exposed to the ad. Even when they were shown the ad again, they denied that it would in fact have any effect on their choice.

    Here, we make two core observations:

    • Despite the self-reports, customers who were exposed to the paint ad spent significantly more time exploring the shelves than those who had not been exposed to the ad (see figure 2)
    • The ad effect was associated with a significantly higher motivation score, as assessed by the asymmetric engagement of the frontal parts of the brain

    figure 2

    Taken together, these findings demonstrate that ads can indeed have an effect on in-store behavior, and that the actual persuasion process can only be assessed through applied neuroscience, not from self reports. This also hints at the possibility of testing other kinds of communication prior to store visits, including tabs, outdoor banners and store entrances. With this publication, we now have protocols for addressing exactly these challenges.


    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing Yearbook of last year. Liked it? Order the 2015, 2016 or 2017 Neuromarketing Yearbook now!

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