Predicting the effect of TV concepts

On January 31, 2013

tv-commercialsNeuromarketing research predicts the effect of TV ads, even before the commercial is made.

Effective TV commercials evoke a unique pattern of brain activity, the scientists from Neurensics concluded after studying over 150 commercials, including award-winning ads like Effies, humorous and even irritating ads. Functional magnetic resonance imaging makes it possible to read what is going on in people’s brains while seeing certain stimuli. By measuring emotions in the brain of the consumer with an MRI-scanner, the researchers discovered a ‘neural signature’ that predicts how effective a commercial is with a stunning accuracy up to 82%.
If you know how an effective commercial evokes activity in the brain, you can also determine how effective a storyboard is to the final production. This was the goal of a recently completed follow-up study, which showed that indeed the same brain pattern is activated when seeing storyboards and the final production.
The results are amazing! With a correlation of 80% between the storyboard and final production, the researchers could see whether the concepts had the effect promised by the creators. The study additionally revealed something beneficial for advertisers: even simple storyboards, where the imagination of the consumer is put to the test, gave the same high correlation rate with the final production. For the first time in history, companies are able to test propositions and concepts in advertising with neuromarketing techniques.
Using neuroscientific methods, researchers from Neurensics found out why sometimes ads work, and sometimes don’t, boing able to see when viewers exhibited buying behavior. In a meta-analysis that involved studying over 150 commercials viewed by over 200 subjects, they uncovered the effectiveness of the advertisements. Included in the television spots tested, along with the “normal” ads, were award-winning commercials in three categories: funny ads, irritating ads and Effie nominations for campaigns that were demonstrably effective.
The results indicated that each of the three categories caused a unique pattern in brain activity. The irritating commercials are, indeed, irritating – so much so that they trigger anger. The funny ads have an impact on the brain, attract attention and are original and fun to watch. Accordingly, they stimulate primarily the regions of the brain that process visual input. Finally, Effie selections have an average impact but excel at triggering positive emotions, while also defusing negative emotions. Researchers stated that this is because clearly effective commercials communicate their message in a concrete, appealing and rewarding manner. This is reflected in the increased activity in the auditory regions of the brain: people listen to Effies, and they receive very consistent scores.
Copyright photo courtesy of Neurensics
It is interesting to see what an effective advertisement does to the brain. It provides insight into how advertising works and how to optimize it. Moving storyboards, animatics or strategic plans can be tested for their efficacy in activating the brain dimensions that correspond to effective commercial communications (as the meta-analysis of post-testing provided input for performing pre-testing).
Scientific partner of Neurensics, Professor Dr. Victor Lamme, will present the study results at the upcoming Marketing Insights Event 2013 on February 7th in The Hague. Neuromarketing based on fMRI is obviously the most powerful tool for understanding the consumer, thus realizing significant cost savings in both production and broadcasting of TV commercials.
Neurensics is an international neuromarketing agency from The Netherlands that also has branches in Germany, Argentina, Turkey and China.

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