Google Measuring Brain Waves

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There’ve been a lot of disturbing news in advertising this year and this week, all of it involving brain stuff.  Thankfully, Google’s not manipulating our thoughts—yet.
Google Measuring Brave Waves
But the company has been experimenting with YouTube ads by reading brain waves to see how people respond to them. Garett Rogers sat in on a webcast hosted by Google’s Leah Spalding and MediaVest’s Yaakov Kimelfield.

Spalding and Kimelfield revealed the results of a study that employed “neuromarketing” (we’ll get to that in a minute) firm NeuroFocus “to measure the impact of YouTube overlay advertisements on attention levels, emotional engagement, and other psychological metrics.”

They decided YouTube overlay ads were effectively compelling and improved positive brand response. Why is Google, previously primarily focused on click-through rates, so interested in brain waves suddenly? Spalding says it’s about how memorable an ad is and its impact, and how important it is to “look beyond” the click through.

Beyond the click through. . .beyond the click through. . .Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, it was in my editorial title back in March 2007. Toot, toot, my own horn, toot toot.

Granted, this neuromarketing business isn’t on the same level as actually making messages sound inside someone’s head like a thought, or erasing individual memories, but it is a little spooky. Earlier this week Martin Lindstrom was all over the media landscape promoting his book buy-ology, making the term neuromarketing a much wider known phrase.

In part, neuromarketing study involves functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) to study how the brain reacts to different stimuli. Knowing this information is thought to shed light on how the subconscious brain operates and how it affects the conscious brain. While there are no doubt countless applications for this, advertisers are jumping on the neuro-wagon in order to take the guess-work out of branding. Some things hit and some things miss and over the history of advertising no one has known why, or at least no one has known in advance.

Neuromarketing aims to solve that problem, likely making all of us slaves to the corporate machine in the process. But that’s a bit conspiratorial, I suppose. After all, is it harmful to know that Coke sells better than Pepsi based on wildly effective branding and not on taste?

Well, I guess if we’re only talking soda pop, eh?

If this is a topic that interests you, this explanation of the three layers of brain—the reptilian, mammalian, and the human—should spark some Stephen King-like eeriness. Like the best kind of red head, fascinating and a little scary.

Google Measuring Brain Waves
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  • http://www.petermonroe.com/2008/10/10/peter-monroe-on-fox/ Peter Monroe

    Maybe everyone should have to wear a neural recording and transmitting helmet in order to log onto the internet in order to verify their identity and protect the children. 

    • http://www.petermonroe.com/2008/10/10/peter-monroe-on-fox/ Peter Monroe

      It is a joke.  I am not serious.  Fine-tuning advertising is one thing, but this does seem pretty hard-core, doesn’t it?  I wonder if someday, they will be matching advertising to individual brainwave patterns?

  • http://www.cheaphotels1.com Matt

    This is really a good concept "Neuromarketing".

  • Guest

    Crappy redirect again

  • Guest

    The people already dumb enough to be affected by commercials and propoganda T.V. will be the recipients of this method. It will make no difference.

  • http://www.squidoo/how-to-fall-asleep-fast Guest

    Now I know

    how to fall asleep fast

    when traveling.  I’ll just download Dances With Wolves from Netflix before I go …

  • http://www.webcasinogame.com/ web

    I had one question though

  • Guest

    If they hooked me up to one of those, as soon as ANY ad showed up on the screen, the machine would start amoking and catch fire (and if it didn’t, just to show my distaste for having products shoved down my throat all day every day, I’d set it on fire myself). I tell ya now, they wouldn’t need that thing in the first place because I’d be giving off a number of physical indicators such as; rolling of the eyes, gritting teeth, (and in the event I was shown a “freecreditreport” commercial,) cursing and setting things on fire.
    Advertising has already gone waaaay too far and incorporating the use of brainwaves into advertising?!?! Come on people, enough is enough! I understand ads in the respect that if I’m viewing or listening to something for free, I expect to see an ad or two. But why are ads DOMINATING paid services? On cable TV, over 12 minutes per hour is paid advertising! (Not counting PSA’s or late-night infomercials) That’s also a conservative number. We ought to push back against things once in a while…

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