Neuro Biometrics

  • Article

Getting Creative Right: The Dynamics of Interactive Video Ads

Over the past two decades, Duane Varan of MediaScience has conducted more than 100 studies about video advertisements that have interactivity features. “We know that interactivity is physiologically more arousing; people are more engaged, and that translates into better memory,” he said. “So, we know that interactive ads work, but now the question is: Why do they work, (and not) what we can do, but what we should do.”

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Track the Success: TV vs. Other Video Advertising Platforms

This presentation described the findings of a major ethnographic study (conducted in Germany, Austria and Switzerland) that compared the impact of video advertising on various platforms: TV, BVOD (VOD provided by commercial broadcasters), YouTube and Facebook. The study used eye-tracking devices to assess attention to ads and unaided recall as impact measure.

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Understanding the Relationship Between Creative Attention and Media Performance

Realeyes and TVision presented an analysis of the relationship between pre-test measures of “creative attention” (from Realeyes) and in-market attention to television advertising (from TVision). Realeyes’ “Quality Score” has three components: an ad’s ability to capture visual attention, its ability to retain attention and its ability to encode attention. Their overall quality scores were strongly correlated with TVision’s Creative Attention Scores for Consumer Tech Ads, moderately correlated for CPG ads, and weakly correlated for streaming entertainment ads. The environment in which an ad is shown plays a major role in the degree to which viewers pay attention to an ad, particularly for low-performing creative. The speakers showed an example of a video ad with relatively low attention quality, as measured by Realeyes, which nonetheless had relatively high Creative Attention in-market due to running in environments with high viewability and high attention.

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Dentsu's Attention Economy Project: From Theory to Practice

Dentsu conducted multi-phase research on visual attention to advertising in the U.S. and U.K. across channels, platforms, formats and devices. For digital ads, they worked with Lumen, and for television ads, they worked with TVision. There were two components to the research–exploring how much attention consumers pay to advertising “in the wild” and exploring attention to ads in a structured design with forced exposure to pre-selected ads for varying amounts of time. They learned that, for example, uplift in outcomes was stronger for viewing of four seconds of a six-second ad than for four seconds of a 20-second ad. This research has provided Dentsu with an extensive data set on attention and an understanding of the drivers of attention that can be applied to future plans.

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NYCU: Better Sales Predictions with Neuro Methods

A new study shows that using neuroscience-based methods is likely to increase the accuracy of real-world product sales.   This study, by academics in Canada, France and Germany, explored the ability of using different kinds of data to predict sales of new products before their launch. They compared in-house market data such as price and promotion level, customer attitudes based on a representative survey, and a neuroscience-based method: functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) data, which were obtained from a relatively small sample of individuals and collected in a laboratory. For the study, they used a large German retailer’s sales data to define an estimation data set to predict sales of 17 different new products, before they were launched.

  • Results indicate that using fMRI data to forecast sales of new products significantly increased forecasting accuracy: It led to a 28% better forecast than a model that considered historic sales data only. A model combining all data led to an improvement of 38%.
This study is significant for two reasons. First, it used fMRI data to predict real-world sales of new products – which is hardly ever done. Second, it confirms that the inclusion of neuroscience-based methods is likely to increase the accuracy of research findings and that neuro-based data, while more expensive to obtain, are usually superior to survey data. Source: Varga, M. et al. (2021, November 5). Predicting Sales of New Consumer Packaged Products with fMRI, Survey and Market Data. Marketing Science Institute (MSI) Working Paper Series 2021 Report No. 21-139. MSI at the ARF.  

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NYCU: Music & Sports Can Make Ads More Effective

Two presentations (both based on research conducted by MediaScience) demonstrated how the context in which ads are placed can have a strong impact of the ads’ performance. Context Matters: Music Television Learnings on Engaging Audiences Laura Vanison - Director Consumer & Artist Insights, Vevo; Bryon Schafer - SVP, Research, Vevo; Dr. Duane Varan - CEO, MediaScience. This presentation described a research project that confirmed the power of context effects, especially when there is alignment between the content and the ad creative, in a music video environment.

  • Vevo’s consumer surveys have shown that most viewers of music videos want to alter or improve their mood and they seek out the music that fits the mood they’re after. This research explored how mood states evoked by music videos impacted the performance of ads that were aligned with those moods.
  • Using neuro-metric measures in lab experiments, the study found that ads paired with music videos of a similar mood drove greater brand impact.
  • The researchers point out that this finding is consistent with other data that found “mood repair.” This context effect is where the emotions evoked by the content transfers the to the ads, especially if the ad is aligned. (Different context effects have been found for other content, such as “excitation transfer” from sports programs to ads in those programs). The researchers recommend that advertisers take advantage of the opportunity to increase engagement with the ad and enhance brand impact though alignments with the context.
The Power of Live TV & Sports - TV's Advantage or Unrealized Potential for OTT? Marc Sommer - VP, Strategy & Consumer Insights, FOX Sports; Amy Rask, Ph.D. - Chief Operating Officer, MediaScience This study explored “The Power of Now” – the role of live sports, for viewers and advertisers – with an in-lab experiment that used biometric measures as well as a survey. Special attention was given to the role of sports betting.
  • The study found that watching sports (NFL games) live resulted in more attention and more positive evaluations of the game, and it resulted in more purchase intent compared to watching the next day.
  • Watching sports live also resulted in better ad recall and brand memory than watching other primetime content.
  • The study found a strong effect for sports betting, concluding that “Gambling amplifies emotional engagement.” Gamblers watch more and, importantly, their engagement during the game carries over into ad breaks.
Marc stressed that these findings confirm that sports ratings points are worth more and that sports deserves a premium. Finally, two issues were raised.  First: Are live sports an unrealized potential for streaming services? Second: Can sports betting be integrated into live sports streaming?

Moment-to-Moment EEG Metrics Enhance Ad Effectiveness Analysis


A European research team is on a mission to advance the development and use of electroencephalogram (EEG)-based methods for evaluating advertising effectiveness. Although their research leaves open questions, it suggests that recent developments in this area—specifically moment-to-moment EEG-based indicators—provide a clearer view into emotional response and attention to ads than previous EEG methods.

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NYCU: New Neuro Insights

As the application of neuroscience-based methods in marketing studies increases, new insights emerge.   Each year, the Neuromarketing Science & Business Association (NMSBA) publishes a “Neuromarketing Yearbook”. The 2021 edition lists almost 100 studies covering a wide range of issues. Here is a brief summary of key insights from some of these new studies:

  • A study of movie trailers found that most successful movies were marketed with trailers that focused on negative emotions, such as sadness and fear. (This was particularly true of action movies). However, the research found that the display of positive emotions – surprise and joy – were very strong drivers of box office success. The researchers suggest that movie marketers consider more displays of positive emotions in movie trailers. (Study by Mind It).
  • The findings of a study on ads for a children’s charity also found that positive emotions, such as hope, are strong drivers of charity donation intentions. In this study, depictions of “sadness” were negatively correlated with donation intent. (Study by Mindlab International).
  • Neuroscience methods can predict the popularity of new songs, according to a study by Unravel Research. They found their measure of a song’s “neural synchronicity” – an indicator of “brain-friendliness” - correlated with Spotify plays and with the release of the song as a single. In contrast, respondents’ own ratings were very poor predictors of success.
  • Neuroscience-based methods can be most valuable when we must assume that respondents may not want to tell us how they really feel. Therefore, Bellwether Citizen Response and emOcean Research, used an implicit methodology to measure reactions to a statement about, “systemic racism in the United States.” Reactions differed by racial background: African Americans endorsed the terms “constraint,” “disgust” and “frustration;” Caucasians “astonishment,” “sadness” and “confusion.”
Source: Neuromarketing Science & Business Association (NMSBA). (2021). Neuromarketing Yearbook 2021. NMSBA. The book is a NMSBA membership benefit. (Note: The ARF is an NMSBA member).

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CMO Brief: Attention and Ad Impact -- New Insights from New Research

One of the essential goals of advertising is to get customers’ attention. However, a lot of campaigns approach this simplistically. More “attention” does not necessarily mean an ad is more effective. Attention is a much more complex phenomenon than that. While attention is a prerequisite for ad impact, the term is ambiguous, complex and attention is difficult to measure. Moreover, “attention” does not necessarily indicate a positive response, and a high level of attention is not always a sign of a positive ad impact. Read more.