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Increasing our brainpower: how to

get the best out of neuromarketing
As long as the conditions are right, biosensory research can enhance clients’
insight into campaign effectiveness, says Graham Page, Millward Brown

HE MERITS of neuroscience-based FIGURE 1 this ad, the car is shown being built entire-
techniques continue to spark debate. Implicit associations ly from cake, with very little explicit mes-
However, as one of the first com- saging. The implicit associations evoked
panies to explore this space, the issue for Implicit ideas evoked by Skoda ‘Car Bakers’. by the ad are shown in Figure 1. These dif-
Millward Brown has become less about The brand and the concept of ‘femininity fered from the explicit associations evoked
whether to use neuroscience, and more were strongly evoked by the ad – when asked directly, few peo-
about how to get the best out of it. Feminine Strong ple mentioned the idea of ‘femininity’
Skoda associations
In the past six years, we have studied Family (they focused on the fun tone and unusual
Features Moderate
the main neuroscience techniques and Unreliable associations
approach). However, given the Julie
compared them with our existing meth- Silly
Andrews soundtrack, it’s natural that this
ods. We have found significant value in Unsafe idea may be evoked, but not mentioned, as
Warm Weak
specific neuroscience methods – when Caring associations it’s not overt.
used alongside existing approaches, and Well-built Whether this is a ‘good’ result for the
only if interpreted with care by people Bars represent the strength with which each
idea was evoked by watching the ad
brand depends on its strategy – but the ad
with experience in the field. performed excellently on other explicit
Source: Millward Brown
Millward Brown has rolled out neuro- measures within the Millward Brown
science-based methods alongside more Link system, and we gained a more round-
established tools. But each method is used ed view of communication from the ad by
only when it will add value, and when it is Branding: focus of attention integrating this implicit approach.
relevant to the client issue. In selecting We used a similar idea to test the appeal
Good Skoda branding in ‘Car bakers’ is
methods, we have asked: supported by tight attention when badge
of a series of brand logos for a Polish client
● Does the method tell us something is affixed to car in the financial services industry. The
meaningful about brands or marketing? results from explicit ratings correlated
● Does it tell us something we don’t with results from an implicit test – but the
already know (and enough to justify implicit method pulled out a much clearer
the costs)? winner, suggesting that this is a useful
● Is it practical and scalable? approach for this type of research.
● Does adding the method increase our Each dot represents the eye fixation of a participant On the whole, this type of approach lets
when watching the ad
ability to predict behaviour? us see in more depth whether a brand is
Source: Millward Brown
We feel the approaches we are using achieving its desired positioning, or if a
with clients pass the first three tests in par- campaign or logo has the potential to
ticular – and have the potential to pass the are systematically biased by their reac- shape a brand’s perceptions as intended.
fourth. These methods fall mainly into tions to brands or ads. These methods have
three areas: a long history of use in cognitive psychol- Eye-tracking
● Implicit association measurement ogy to infer implicit (unstated) processes Eye-tracking is widely used, partly because
● Eye tracking and responses, and we have worked with it has become greatly simplified and more
● Brainwave measurement. US academics on the most powerful meth- affordable in recent years. The benefits are
We use other methods as the need aris- ods for online research projects. What clear – eye movements can be a good guide
es. Functional magnetic resonance imag- they add to established tools is an insight to the focus of visual attention, with more
ing (fMRI), for instance, is hugely power- into an extra level of communication – the detail and accuracy than self-reported
ful. We have used it with Royal Mail. But it ‘raw’ ideas stirred up by brands and ads, answers. But the methods say nothing
is limited in its scalability, so we have used before any filtering for sense or social about why a particular area catches the
it less extensively than others. A range of desirability – but which still may play a eye, or their response to it, so, in isolation,
approaches is needed as different methods role in shaping consumers’ responses. it can be difficult to interpret. We have
are useful at different times. Our clients have used these methods to used this approach in several markets and
understand the implicit associations acti- have found it a useful, additional diagnos-
Implicit association measurement vated by brands, by ads, and by hard- tic variable, which helps explain advert-
While this is not strictly a ‘neuroscience’ to-discuss stimuli, such as brand logos. We ising or packaging performance as meas-
technique, this approach shares with used a variation on the ‘emotional stroop’ ured via survey instruments.
more biometric methods the principle of effect (whereby reaction time to name the Figure 2 shows the results from a scene
inferring consumers’ responses, rather colours words are written in are biased by from the Skoda ‘Car bakers’ execution.
than asking a direct question. The infer- the extent to which ideas connected to This ad was shown to be powerfully
ence comes from measuring consumers’ those words are active in the brain) to branded to Skoda in our Link study, and
reaction times or accuracy on tasks that research the Skoda Fabia ‘Car bakers’ ad. In eye-tracking helped illustrate why. Visual

20 Admap • January 2010 © Warc 2010

ADM Jan 20-21 FOCUS Page.qxd 12/10/2009 10:05 Page 21

Graham Page is executive

vice-president, global solutions, at
Millward Brown. He has worked as
both a client service and innovations
director for Millward Brown in the US
and UK, and leads the company’s
consumer neuroscience team.

FIGURE 3 ing. Implicit association methods are use-

EmSense biosensory results for Dove ‘Evolution’ ful to probe for ideas that participants may
think sound strange or overblown.
Both positive emotion and cognition peak at the ‘reveal’ moment − then emotion ● Probing for transient responses to
becomes more negative as the message sinks in ads or brand experiences. Consumers are
great at talking about the gist of an ad or
brand, but they may not be able to articu-
late how they got there. Measures such as
Model sits down, Billboard Closing text
EEG and eye tracking can add value in pin-
Make up, hair and photography
titles revealed pointing the emotional or cognitive highs
and lows in a piece of creative, or the focus
of attention, helping to develop more
effective campaigns.
● Giving more detail on consumers’ feel-
ings. Consumers can talk about their
feelings in surveys and qualitative re-
Red line = emotion higher = more positive lower = more negative
Blue line = cognition higher = more cognition lower = less cognition Source: EmSense 2009
search if given the right help. But
neuroscience can add a powerful addition-
al level of detail about the timing of these
attention is clearly focused on the Skoda approach for the Dove ‘Evolution’ film. In responses and their origins.
badge when it is affixed to the car. This Link survey-based research, this film is a
contrasted with dispersed visual attention hugely powerful performer – engaging, Getting the best out of neuroscience
at the end of the ad, when the Fabia name- emotionally resonant and a powerful Our experience in researching and using
plate is mentioned, which was a useful communicator of the core idea. The Em- these methods has suggested the follow-
diagnosis of the weaker nameplate-brand- Sense data illustrates the journey con- ing best practices:
ing we saw in the survey results. sumers take to get to that set of responses. ● Be critical. The technology can be
Figure 3 shows the moment at which it alluring, but ask the same questions that
Brainwave measurement is revealed that the film is about the mak- would be asked of any conventional
Brainwave measurement is highly com- ing of an ad. It clearly demonstrates a research technique. Request proof. Go
plex, due to the wide variety of systems crescendo of both positive emotion and along to fieldwork, or take the ‘tests’ your-
available. We have examined a number of cognition at this key moment as the point self, to see how realistic the results are.
systems and are primarily working with is made, which is crucial to the overall ● Look for experience. This is a complex
US-based EmSense to integrate electroen- response. Note how emotion becomes area, so familiarity with these approaches
cephalography (EEG) and other biomet- much more negative as the implications and an academic perspective is important
rics with survey tools. We have found the ‘sink in’. Work with other clients has to understand claim versus reality, and
EmSense technology useful in that it is helped reveal and address issues such as when neuroscience adds most value.
more scalable and cost-effective than con- weak communication, branding or disen- ● Integrate. These methods do not reveal
ventional EEG methods. It collects EEG gagement with key protagonists. the ‘inner truth’ – they are a useful addi-
and secondary biometric data, such as tional perspective on consumers’ re-
heart rate, respiration, blink rate and body Adding value sponses to brands and marketing, which
temperature, via a simple headband with While we are realistic about what neuro- needs interpretation in the light of other
dry electrodes. This makes the equipment science methods can reveal, we feel that information. It is only by combining
less intimidating for participants and sim- the right methods add value. They tend to approaches that greater insight is revealed.
ple to apply – which then enables fully add the most value under certain circum- Our experience suggests that the future
quantitative sample sizes to be recruited at stances, such as: for ‘neuromarketing’ is as another piece of
a lower cost than conventional ‘wet’ EEG ● Dealing with sensitive material. This the toolkit for understanding consumers.
equipment. We have worked with EEG for is when qualitative and survey methods But real understanding comes from in-
clients in several countries. Brainwave are most vulnerable to distortion, so meth- tegrating information, rather than look-
data can add to survey findings a powerful ods that don’t rely on explicit questions can ing at one perspective alone, and using the
diagnostic of participants’ moment-by- reveal unstated attitudes more effectively. right tool at the right time.
moment response to an ad, revealing ● Dealing with abstract or ‘higher
details that may happen too quickly for order’ ideas. Consumers face challenges more on
them to report via other means. when trying to talk about the complex neuromarketing at
Figure 3 shows the results of this ideas at the heart of some brands’ position-

© Warc 2010 January 2010 • Admap 21