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In a major commitment to the emerging field of neuroscience media research, Nielsen Co. this morning said it has made a strategic investment in NeuroFocus, a company specializing in the science of brainwave research, especially as it relates to measuring the effectiveness of advertising, programming and other forms of media messaging.
Nielsen said the companies plan to develop new forms of measurement and metrics based on the latest advances in neuroscience, but declined to disclose details of the deal, other than to note that Nielsen CEO David Calhoun has joined the NeuroFocus board.
Based in Berkeley, California, NeuroFocus applies brainwave, eye-tracking and skin conductance measurements to track the effectiveness of advertising, branding, packaging, pricing and product design across.
The field of neuroscience has long been explored by Madison Avenue. Starcom MediaVest Group research chief Kate Sirkin has been experimenting with the technology as an advertising and media testing tool as far back as ten years ago, but the economics of the research were then too prohibitive to commercialize broadly. Academic researchers have also been pitching various neuroscience and biometric measurement technologies to advertisers and agencies. The Center for Media Design at Ball State University has several applications.
Recently, the Advertising Research Foundation began exploring its application as an "engagement" measurement tool, and has worked with Harvard Business School professor Jerry Zaltman, who recently launched Cambridge, Mass.-based Olson Zaltman Associates to apply the technology. During a recent summit at the Harvard Business School, Zaltman's team and executives from Innerscope Research, and Sequent Partners hosted a series of brainwave studies utilizing people in the industry, including several advertising agency executives.
Nielsen said its alliance with NeuroFocus would augment its existing research and development, and that NeuroFocus' techniques would become a permanent feature in Nielsen's Digital Labs research centers at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and at CityWalk in Los Angeles.
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