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Ads and Neuroscience

Posted in Advertising by Pankaj Gudimella on March 31, 2008

NEVER mind brainstorms. These days, Madison Avenue is all about brain waves.

That may be overstated, but it is no exaggeration that agencies and advertisers are growing more interested in neuroscience in their never-ending efforts to improve effectiveness.

The ardor of the ad business to adopt the technical tools of biometrics — measuring brain waves, galvanic skin response, eye movements, pulse rates and the like — is increasing as consumer spending, the engine of the American economy, slows.

In other words, in hard times ads must work harder to move the merchandise.

“Instead of hypotheses about what people think and feel, you actually see what they think and feel,” said Joel Kades, vice president for strategic planning and consumer insight at Virgin Mobile USA in Warren, N.J.

“I’m not such a huge fan of ad testing,” he added, but measuring biological responses is “absolutely useful.”

The curiosity about neuroscientific ways to determine how ads work — or fail to work — will be on display this week at the 54th annual convention and exposition of the Advertising Research Foundation. The agenda for the conference is filled with presentations on better methods to determine how consumers engage with ads (and vice versa).

“We measure attention, second by second; how emotionally engaged you are with what you’re watching, whether it’s a commercial, a movie or a TV show; and memory retention,” said A. K. Pradeep, chief executive at NeuroFocus in Berkeley, Calif.

More from NYTimes here.

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