What Makes a Television Commercial Sell? – Using Biometrics to Identify Successful Ads via JAR

This study demonstrates the potential of certain neurological measures—in particular, biometrics—to identify television advertisements that successfully lead to sales. The researchers, who represent academia and industry, used direct measures of what they believe matters most to marketers: in-market sales response (from single-source data).

Key Takeaways:

  • Biometrics have the potential to help advertisers understand how sales-successful advertisements work, yet there is no silver-bullet measure to gauge effectiveness
  • The ultimate goal of brand advertisements is to sell; therefore, testing tools must be validated against sales or other relevant behavioral measures
  • Advertisers should establish in advance the desired audience response from any advertisement (e.g. laughter or attention to the brand) and use evidence-supported measures and analysis to ensure the desired response is achieved
  • Key biometrics and objective coding seem useful under defined conditions, whereas traditional survey measures offer no additional value

To access this paper in its entirety, please go to thearf.org website and follow these 3 steps:

  • Login to your myARF
  • Click on “Journal of Advertising Research” on the left hand side menu
  • Locate the article (in italics below) in the search field on the page

Neuroscience and The Revealing Power of Emotions

Are Politicians Reading Your Mind?

In order to win elections, political campaigns in many countries are using neuroscience to seek voter data and insights. Kevin Randall, writing for The New York Times describes some of these techniques and campaigns in his article, “Neuropolitics, Where Campaigns Try to Read Your Mind.”  He describes how facial coding, biofeedback, and brain imaging is being used in “neuropolitics” not only to tailor campaigns but even for governing. TAG: neuropolitics.  See more . . Source:

Did Your Smile Help Shape That Ad?

Facial coding technology enables marketers to analyze the facial expressions of consumers as they view ads. Their emotional responses can be more accurate than surveys, interviews or focus groups.  E.J. Schultz, writing for Advertising Age, discusses how facial expressions can reveal responses missed by traditional copy-testing methods in this article, “Facial-Recognition Lets Marketers Gauge Consumers’ Real Responses to Ads.” TAG: facial recognition.  See more . . . Source:   

Are TV Networks Getting Inside Your Brain?

Both Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal and Viacom Inc. are opening labs where they will track the biometrics of TV viewers in order to understand what programs and commercials elicit the strongest emotional response from viewers.  The TV networks are also interested in using information about viewer focus to find the best time for a commercial within a program.  Time Warner Inc. also uses biometrics to test ads in its lab. This Reuters article by Jessica Toonkel, “TV Networks Open Labs to Read the Minds of Viewers,” discusses how the results from biometric testing can reveal engagement.  TAG: TV viewers. See more . . Source: 

Consumers Lie, Brain Research Reveals the Truth

Market researchers have found that consumers are not always truthful when questioned about their reaction to commercials.  Neuroscientist Moran Cerf, an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Northwestern’s Kellogg School, uses tools like EEGs and fMRIs to observe the brain activity of people as they react to films and commercials, measuring what happens when they positively or negatively engage with content. The content and length of Super Bowl ads are being tested using these tools at Northwestern. This article in Media Post by Sarah Mahoney, “Brain Research: What’s the Best Length for a Super Bowl Spot?” further discusses the costs of brain research, as well as the benefits, such as memorable and engaging commercials.  See more . . . Source:

Your Magazine Ad Placement is Just Wrong

Eye-tracking research involving 183 magazine ads demonstrated that the traditional placement of ads at the top of the page is not the most effective placement.  In fact, eye fixations are drawn to the bottom of the page.  The analysis behind this conclusion as well as the latest research on ad color, placement, and the amount of text for magazine ads is discussed in this June 2015 Journal of Advertising Research article, “The Power of Direct Context As Revealed by Eye Tracking-A Model Tracks Relative Attention to Competing Editorial and Promotional Content,” by Edith G. Smit, University of Amsterdam; Sophie C. Boerman, University of Amsterdam; Lex Van Meurs, GfK.  TAG: magazine ad placement. See more . . . Source: