If it sounds a little like something out of Arthur C. Clarke’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”, it is. New technology has been developed in Berkeley, California known as NeuroFocus. According to an interesting article on Reed Business’s Multichannel News site, NeuroFocus is “Leveraging marketing, engineering and neuroscience expertise from the University of California at Berkeley, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the company measures–on a millisecond-by-millisecond basis–attention, engagement and memory retention”. Hmmm. . .sounds like the old Vulcan mind meld, doesn’t it?
Apparently, the Nielsen Company is so impressed by this new technology, it has partnered with NeuroForce to “bring an array of science-based products, services and metrics to clients in consumer packaged goods, television, film and emerging media”. By integrating the new scientific techniques with its existing services, Nielsen is hoping to shed more light on the elements of successful consumer engagement.
NeuroFocus measures brainwave, eye-tracking and skin conductance measurements to track the effectiveness of various consumer touchpoints, including advertising, branding, packaging, pricing and product design. When consumers don a special cap embedded with sensors, their brain responses are then tracked an astonishing 2000 times per second as they interact with these touchpoints. In that way, precise, instantaneous determinations can be made about the specific aspects of marketing messages that resonate with consumers. Not only that: emotional engagement can be tracked as well as the portions of marketing messages that are moved to the memory center of the brain.
Besides tracking brain activity, NeuroFocus’ ability to add eye tracking and impulses from the skin help to corroborate the brain wave analysis portion of their testing. Nielsen Executive VP Susan Whiting: “This alliance will enable us to gather truly unique insights about consumers’ attitudes and behavior about which they themselves may not even be fully aware and will complement our other measures of consumer behavior.”
For those executives who have long wanted better ways to measure the effectiveness of their marketing departments–advertising, branding, packaging and product innovation features–NeuroForce may be perceived as a great way to finally get the best scientifically-based metrics in place. Eye tracking has been in place for some time now, but augmented by brain wave and skin measurements, NeuroFocus technology may be very tempting. Nielsen is obviously banking on that.
* What do you think of using NeuroFocus technology for marketing applications?
* Do you think consumers will willingly be tested? Or do you think this methodology too invasive for most people?
* Would you be willing to be a test subject for Nielsen in its NeuroFocus labs?
I’d love to hear from you.