ARF Starts Feedback on Neuromarketing Review
In the US, the ARF (Advertising Research Foundation) has unveiled the first results from its review of current neuromarketing methods. The study finds it to be ‘a valuable tool’ but gives many reasons for caution.
The results were revealed at the ARF’s annual convention, which bears the punchy title of Re:think 2011 - Managing the Complexity Maze: Insights as the Navigator.
The NeuroStandards Collaboration Project looks at the science underlying the new methods and the validity of the conclusions they give. The ARF said today it would continue the project and set up an ‘Expert Review Network’ consisting of independent experts to assist users of the research.
The study – whose results were presented by ARF EVP Horst Stipp; Duane Varan, Ph.D., CRO at The Disney Media and Advertising Lab; and Colgate-Palmolive Insight leader Richard Thorogood - worked with eight neuromarketing vendors on three continents to poll 18-to-49-year-olds on reactions to a series of eight commercials.
The groundbreaking validation study used facial coding, biometrics, EEG and quantitative EEG, facial electromyography (fEMG), steady-state topography (SST) and fMRI. Participating neuromarketing-suppliers included Innerscope, Mindlab International, MSW/LAB, NeuroCompass, Neuro Insight, Neurosense/decode, Sands Research and Sensory Logic.
Stipp summarised by saying that ‘Neuromarketing, when done properly, is extremely valuable in providing learning regarding consumer attention and involvement, and emotional reactions’ but added: ‘the application of this complex science to marketing is still developing and there are a number of questions and concerns that surround the field. Marketers can use the insights from this project to become educated consumers in regards to the use of neuromarketing techniques.’
Many of the conclusions to date centre around the difficulty of linking specific changes in the brain / respondent’s physiology with specific stimuli / moments in ads and images. They highlight:
The report suggests a number of best practice recommendations for identifying neurological and biometric methods that best meet marketers’ research objectives. Additionally, it recommends that neuromarketing be employed as an addition to - not a substitute for - ‘traditional’ research methods.
- the complexity of commercials and video materials with rapidly-changing images, words and music
- the differing lag times for different types of human reaction - for example the brain reacts to potential danger (such as the image of a snake) faster than to a pleasant landscape - and it also anticipates what’s to come
- reactions to one scene within a commercial are likely to be influenced by the preceding content; and
- the measurement of specific emotions and purchase intent is trickier than merely measuring ‘attention’, with difficulty linking specific emotions to specific regions of the brain.
Thorogood, whose title at Colgate-Palmolive is Director of Strategic Insights and Analytics, says neuroscience has become ‘a valuable tool in the marketing-decision process’ and the project represents ‘a unique opportunity for the industry to assess many of the diverse approaches to this science in an open and equitable manner.’
The second phase of the project, called NeuroStandards 2.0, will be detailed in a white paper planned for publication in summer 2011 and will build into a third stage, which includes a NeuroStandards Forum and special seminars for ARF members.
Founded in 1936 by the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the ARF has more than 400 members drawn from the ranks of advertisers, ad agencies, associations, research firms and media companies. It’s based in New York and is online at www.thearf.org .