An April 19 article in Advertising Age summarized the state of applied neuroscience. The headline of the article is “Neuromarketing Exits ‘Hype Cycle,’ Begins to Shape TV Commercials.” What I believe was missing from the article is the point that applied neuroscience supplements traditional research.
Neuroscience or Neuro-scientific measures should always be combined with traditional communications research. One does not replace the other and each provides unique insights….Neuroscience explores the subconscious…traditional research explores the conscious response to media. Our company focuses on integrating each of these methods. They should be inseparable and both are accurate measures that supplement each other.
Traditional communications research, used without applied neuroscience, has a flaw. When we pay research participants to watch an entire commercial and to report their perceptions, their cognition will be different than in real life. In real life they aren’t paid to watch an entire commercial and to report on their perceptions of an ad viewed from beginning to end. It is possible to study multiple ad concepts for which none holds the attention of the viewer long enough for them to get the message even though traditional testing might indicate that one ad was preferred over the others.
Applied neuroscience, when integrated into concept testing designs, reports whether a research participant would actually be likely to view the ad past the first 6 seconds and where and why interest was gained or lost throughout the ad. While we provide incentives for a research participant to watch an ad, we can detect through their psychophysiological response when attention and arousal were increased or decreased and when combined with measures of emotion, whether the message was received as planned.
We often focus on emotion but without attention ads will be literally or figuratively turned off and emotion will not be experienced. Testing emotion without attention and arousal only says how people will feel if forced to watch an ad…not whether they will watch it.