NeuroFocus’ Andrew Pohlmann: Neuromarketing Study Provides Direct Marketers Insight on Consumers

It’s time for marketers to put on their thinking caps, because members of the newest study from NeuroFocus have already donned theirs. And what researchers found while monitoring the subjects’ brainwaves may interest marketers who are trying to decide how to allocate their marketing spend between brand and direct.

Social media is giving mass market television advertising a run for its money in terms of purchase intent and emotional engagement, says Andrew Pohlmann, managing partner in charge of the consulting practice for NeuroFocus, a Berkeley, Calif.-based neuromarketing research and services company. On April 6, NeuroFocus announced findings from its study Ski Lift to Brand Lift: How Olympics Sponsor Gains Neuromarketing Gold.

While wearing an arguably fashionable blue-trimmed brown cap containing 64 sensors, study subjects watched a commercial in three forms—on television, on a branded website and on the brand’s Facebook page. NeuroFocus then measured, 2,000 times a second, activity across all brain regions and monitored eye movement across the advertisement. NeuroFocus used Visa’s “Trip for Life,” an ad in the credit card company’s “Go World” campaign about the 2010 Winter Olympics. (NeuroFocus says neither Visa nor its vendors commissioned the study.)

Here’s Pohlmann’s take on how direct marketers can apply the study findings to their campaigns.

Target Marketing: What aspects of direct marketing strategy did the study explore?
Andrew Pohlmann:
We didn’t set out explicitly to study direct marketing in this research project, but there are clear conclusions and implications for direct marketers that can be drawn from the results.

For example, we know that the brain is strongly attracted to images of human faces. We rely on being able to see faces clearly, in order to be able to figure out what someone’s intentions are. This dates all the way back to our caveman days. Are you a friend or a foe? I rely a lot on your expression to tell me.

But with the rise of mobile marketing today, screen sizes—like the typical cell phone, for example—don’t let me see facial features very well. So here’s what these brain facts mean to marketers: You need to accomplish three basic things in order to sell:

  • You need to capture the consumer’s attention;
  • you need to engage their emotions; and
  • you need to trigger their subconscious to retain your message in their memory.

But if I can’t see someone’s face very well on a mobile device, I’m not likely to become emotionally engaged. If I’m not emotionally engaged, neuroscience teaches that I’m less likely to remember your message. And obviously, if I don’t remember your message, I’m less inclined to buy your product or your service.

So the takeaway for direct marketers is: Mobile devices are well-suited for fact and figure-based marketing messages. TV is best suited for emotionally based marketing messages.

TM: How can direct marketers use the information from this study?
One of the key findings that the study revealed is the power of social media for advertising purposes. (NeuroFocus recorded a purchase intent rating of 6.2 on a 10-point scale, with the branded site reaching 5.7 and television achieving 6.3. Broken down by gender, purchase intent reached 6.4 for women who viewed the video on Facebook and 5.7 when they saw the TV commercial. Men rated the TV viewing higher, at 6.9, versus 6.1 for Facebook. The branded site received the lowest ratings from both sexes.)

… I think the message for direct marketers is that they would be wise to focus even more of their marketing resources on social media. It is already a significant force in the marketplace, and will only become more so in the future.

TM: How can purchase intent be measured by neuroscience?
There’s no ‘buy button’ in the brain, regardless what people may have written about … What we actually did when we started the company was study a variety of ads or direct response vehicles that we knew had both impact within the marketplace and those that did not have impact within the marketplace. So a simple example would be a direct mail piece that went out that generated calls to a call center or a direct mail piece that didn’t generate calls to a call center. And we studied those. And the three measures that I mentioned—attention, emotion and memory—those form the basis for our derived metrics.

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.
Publish date: April 28, 2010 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT