NeuroStandards Marketing Collaboration Project Unveils First Phase of Study

The Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) has released the first phase of its NeuroStandards Collaboration Project. The Project is an independent review of current neuromarketing methods, the core science of existing methods and the reliability of the conclusions. ARF will continue the study by setting up an “Expert Review Network" ; a group of independent specialists to assist users of the study. The second phase of the ARF NeuroStandards Collaboration Project, called NeuroStandards 2.0, will be detailed in a white paper planned for publication in summer 2011 and will inform strategy for the next iteration of the project, which includes a NeuroStandards Forum and special seminars for ARF members.

Ultimately the Results will set standards in an emerging field that can aid media, marketing and advertising researchers better understand how and why consumers react to advertising from a scientific perspective and use this data to make better marketing choices.

Participating neuromarketing-suppliers included Innerscope, Mindlab International, MSW/LAB, NeuroCompass, Neuro Insight, Neurosense/decode, Sands Research and Sensory Logic. Media sponsors included ESPN, MTV Networks, NBC and Turner Broadcasting. This is the first major validation study designed to assess neuroscience as it applies to media and advertising response. Methods used in this study included facial coding, biometrics, electroencephalography (EEG), quantitative EEG, facial electromyography (fEMG), steady-state topography (SST) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

"Neuromarketing, when done properly, is extremely valuable in providing learning regarding consumer attention and involvement, and emotional reactions," said Horst Stipp, EVP, Global Business Strategy at the ARF. "But, the application of this complex science to marketing is still developing and there are a number of questions and concerns that surround the field. Marketers can use the insights from this project to become educated consumers in regards to the use of neuromarketing techniques."

Presented by Horst Stipp, EVP, Global Business Strategy at the ARF, Duane Varan, Ph.D., CRO, The Disney Media and Advertising Lab, and Richard Thorogood, director, Insights & Business Analysis at Colgate-Palmolive, the study worked with eight neuromarketing vendors across three continents to poll 18-to-49-year-olds on reactions to a series of eight commercials. Participating sponsor brands included American Express, Campbell Soup, Chase, Clorox, Colgate-Palmolive, General Motors, Hershey’s and MillerCoors.

Project observations:

Commercials and video materials contain rapidly-changing images, words and music; complex stimuli generate complex viewer reactions that can make it difficult to isolate elements that cause specific reactions
• Different images elicit reactions with different lag times: the brain reacts to the image of potential danger (such as the image of a snake) faster than less threatening imagery (a pleasant landscape). Also, the viewer’s reaction at a given point may reflect anticipation of the next images rather than a reaction to images seen at that moment.
• Reactions to one scene within a commercial are likely to be influenced by the preceding content. Interactions between the images, sounds and words need to be untangled to pinpoint causes of viewer response.
• Measuring "attention" (and related reactions) is less complex than measuring specific emotions and purchase intent. Reactions to one specific region of the brain cannot always be interpreted as indicative of one specific emotion.

These insights yielded several best practice recommendations for identifying neurological and biometric methods that best meet marketers’ research objectives. Additionally, it recommends that neuromarketing be employed as an addition to — not a substitute for — "traditional" research methods.

"Neuroscience has become a valuable tool in the marketing-decision process and the ARF NeuroStandards Collaboration Project provides a unique opportunity for the industry to assess many of the diverse approaches to this science in an open and equitable manner," said Richard Thorogood, Director of Strategic Insights and Analytics, Colgate-Palmolive. "Given its increasing use by the advertising community, it behooves marketers and researchers who participate in neuromarketing to support the ARF in setting the standards now in order to ensure its most effective use."

biometrics, Advertising Research Foundation, NeuromarketingThe Advertising Research Foundation, located in New York, NY , was founded in 1936 by the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies, and is dedicated to aggregating, creating and distributing research-based knowledge that will help members make better advertising decisions. ARF has more than 400 members from advertisers, advertising agencies, associations, research firms and media companies, fostering strategic collaboration among all members of the industry. Please visit www.thearf.org.


Company contact: Heather James SVP, Chief Marketing Officer    heather@thearf.org          646-465-5727
Melissa Connerton, CooperKatz & Company for the ARF             mconnerton@cooperkatz.com 917-595-3039