Neuroelectrical Brain Imaging Tools for the Efficacy of TV Advertising Stimuli and their Application to Neuromarketing (Book Review)

On January 3, 2014
Below you can read the book review of Neuroelectrical Brain Imaging Tools for the Efficacy of TV Advertising Stimuli and their Application to Neuromarketing (by Giovanni Vecchiato, Patrizia Cherubino, Arianna Trettel and Fabio Babiloni) that I wrote for publication for the seventh issue of Neuromarketing Theory & Practice Magazine (published by Neuromarketing Science & Business Association).
This may be a slim volume, but it is not an easy read. It delves deeply into the central role of statistical analysis in recovering information from the scalp and cortical areas involved in EEG as well as several variations of activity in the autonomous nervous system. This helps the reader develop a better understanding of how advertising affects cognition and emotions, choices and decisions. The book is  a very worthy tool for anyone wanting to apply electroencephalography in neuromarketing research.
The authors share the results of their own efforts. They wish to illustrate the potential of both standard and high resolution electroencephalography (EEG) techniques when applied to the analysis of brain activity related to the observation of TV commercials. To depict the emotional involvement, the authors combined the methods of recording electrical activity from the scalp of the subjects, galvanic skin response and heart rate monitoring. They linked the variation of the recorded biosignals to memory, attention and pleasantness of the presented stimuli.
Statistics and methodology
The first part of the book presents the state of the art methodology, study design, data analysis and interpretation of a typical neuromarketing experiment in detail. The authors show that it is possible to enhance the spatial resolution of EEG by solving the related linear inverse problem in order to obtain an estimation of the cortical sources. Moreover, this book also focuses on the statistical analysis of the signals gathered from the cortical areas. The studies also validate models such as HERA (Hemispheric Encoding / Retrieval Asymmetry) – in which the left hemisphere plays a decisive role during the encoding phase of information from the short-term memory to the long-term memory, whereas the right hemisphere plays a role in the retrieval of such information. The authors also identify an active role of the prefrontal and parietal areas in coding the information that will be retained by viewers of the TV commercials. Other chapters are developed around the cortical correlates of cognitive and emotional processes, but also around experienced pleasantness derived from frontal cerebral asymmetry, using the Approach / Withdrawal model.
Vecchiato, Cherubino, Trettel and Babiloni also treat the question of in which cases cultural differences should be present in advertisements aired in different regions around the globe. It is critical for a marketer to understand if different commercials need to be designed and implemented for an identical product. The authors therefore present a study case for an ad aimed at subjects from China and Italy in which significant differences appeared for the emotional variables. Another research case focused on identifying the differences of the effects that a particular car ad has on men and women in order to reduce the length of the commercial and maximize its impact. This is a perfect way of saving money by investing in research, and not wasting money by broadcasting parts of an ad that fail to engage the viewer. This reflects the general attitude of the authors, who specifically state that: ”marketing strategies are usually employed to generate products more close and useful to users, and not vice versa (i.e. convince users to buy useless products)”.

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