As part as our ongoing research on state-of-the-art marketing science and technologies, our group conducted last month its first experiment in neuromarketing. This new field, also called consumer neuroscience, encompasses a range of cutting edge methods of consumer research, aiming at analyzing the core of a consumer's decision process: the human brain itself.
Using cost-effective tools lately available to a broad market, we monitored brain activity of subjects while displaying a selected set of TV commercials. The 20 subjects were recruited from our co-workers, who were just instructed to relax and watch the screen as they would do at home, in a sofa graciously ceded from the executives’ lounge.
Brain activity was recorded about 500 times by second, giving a detailed picture of how each ad was felt by the viewer, and which part of the commercial had the strongest impact.
Brain activity was not the only data gathered during this experiment. First, we implemented a simple observation of behavior. After viewing the ads sequence, the subjects were left without any specific instruction for about five minutes, just being requested not to leave the room. A few product samples, related to the commercials they just observed, were left nearby. Using video monitoring, we could observe their behavior regarding the products from our nearby control room.
We were also interested in the subjective experience of the viewers while watching the ads. The next step of the experiment was of a survey, consisting of two categories of questions:
- How the viewer would evaluate the ad, based on the AIDA framework: did the ad got his attention ? Is he interested in the product ? Does he plan to purchase it ?
- What feelings the viewer experienced during the ad, chosen from a list including for instance "warm-hearted", "friendly", "refreshing", or "boring"
Finally, an interview was conducted to gain a deeper insight on the viewing experience, and how the ad's appreciation was related to each viewer's personality, values and background.
The experiment gave exciting results, showing interesting correlations between brain activity and qualitative data. Our initial intuition was that the new evaluation methods (neuromarketing) and the classical ones (survey, interview) give complementary insight on the viewing experience. This intuition seems largely confirmed; both methods can and should be combined for an even deeper understanding on what makes an ad efficient or not.
This experiment has just scratched the potential offered by these new technologies, and we expect important developments in the near future. Specifically, we aim at developing a cost-efficient solution for evaluation of advertising, which we will extend to catalogs, websites, banner ads, or emails in addition to TV commercials.