Mobile or TV? Facebook Shares Its Neuromarketing Study Results

On June 29, 2015

mobile_and_TVWe all know that neuromarketing research is used more and more by the biggest companies worldwide, but most of the time we don’t have access to the results us such studies.
Still, Facebook announced a few days ago the results of their latest neuromarketing research study conducted by SalesBrain (US-based neuromarketing agency). Dr. Christophe Morin (Founder and CEO of SalesBrain) and Dr. Paul Zak (President of ZESTxLabs) were involved in this research.
The aim of the study was to understand how people’s brains and physiology respond to identical stimuli viewed on a smartphone vs on a TV. The study focused on how the brain responds to 4 key areas: engagement, attention, emotion and retention. By monitoring the direct response of advertising on people’s brains, on their nervous systems, researchers were able to pick up objective measurements in order to predict the effect of advertising. The innovative part of this neuroscience study is that it  has compared ads watched on a mobile device to ads watched on TV.
Helen Crossley (Head of Audience Insights for Facebook IQ) mentioned that Facebook IQ “conducted a significant piece of research to explore how people share the moments that matter to them on Facebook and Instagram. What we have seen is that, with the advent of mobile, we’re moving from fewer bigger, longer moments manufactured by the media and marketing industry to a time when people are manufacturing and consuming their own moments en masse, every day, 365 days a year. Given that people are processing so many moments every day, we sought to understand how exactly people are processing those moments – from a physiological and neurological standpoint – and how that processing varies depending on the screen.

Experimental design
In order to design an ad experience that best represented how people view ads on a smartphone and on a TV, researchers created a test environment where participants viewed a stimulus while watching a TV show or while scrolling through a Facebook News Feed. According to Dr. Zak, multiple neurological measures were taken to capture the unconscious responses of the 70 volunteer participants. They measured sweat, heart rate and eye movements, as well as brain activity measured via electroencephalogram (EEG) while subjects viewed a stimulus on either a smartphone or a TV. Participants were also surveyed in order to understand their message recall of the stimulus on the smartphone and on the TV.
The participants were randomly split into 2 groups, accounting for age and gender. First the participants completed a baseline measure. Then each group viewed a set of stimulus ads, which ranged from movie trailers to brand ads and varied in length from 30–120 seconds. Group 1 viewed the stimulus on a TV first then a smartphone. Group 2 completed the same set of exercises as Group 1, except those participants began with a smartphone and then viewed the ads on a TV.
NEURO_GRAPHICS 2 Researchers identified the degree to which people paid attention to the ad, their ad preference and their motivation to approach or withdraw from the stimuli.

Approach motivation – measured neural activity related to the experience of positive emotion and approach tendencies. Negative numbers are indicative of greater right frontal activation/withdrawal tendencies, and positive numbers are indicative of greater left frontal activation/approach tendencies.
Cognitive effort / load – measured neural activity related to mental involvement in the information presented. Higher values indicate greater mental effort exerted with the presented information.
Distraction  – measured neural activity related to attending to the presented information. Higher values indicate a higher likelihood of being distracted, or less attention to the presented stimuli.
Engagement – autonomic activity that combines cognitive (attention) and affective (emotional) components of engagement.
General attention – Autonomic activity reflecting the sustaining of attention throughout the experience.
Intensity of emotions – autonomic activity reflecting emotional intensity of the experience.

According to the report, results showed that overall, people were more attentive and tended to feel more positively toward the information presented on a mobile phone than on a TV. With TV, people’s brains were more distracted and had to work harder to process the information. They found that overall mobile was on par with TV with regards to emotional intensity and engagement, so people were equally likely to be as engaged on mobile as they were on TV. They also observed an uplift in message recall when participants viewed the stimuli on TV followed by viewing it on a smartphone (first experimental group).
Although not expecting that the mobile viewing experience would produce more positive emotions, researchers were surprised. You would assume that because the TV screen is larger than a smartphone screen that the bigger screen would yield a more positive emotional response. But it didn’t. According to Dr. Morin, it seems that when viewing a stimulus our neurological systems don’t really require a grandiose experience to feel a response. Overall, the more data that we seem to be exposed to, the more effort is placed on our brain. And, in some way, due to its size, the smartphone may provide a more efficient, less energy-demanding experience.

Researchers concluded that the smartphone experience is more immersive than the experience of TV viewing overall. When the same ad stimulus played on a smartphone, the reaction was greater than TV on both attention and positive emotion, and, to some degree, on engagement, which was quite remarkable. Some results also show the complementary nature of the 2 screens. In analyzing the post-exposure survey, there was an uplift in message recall when a participant viewed the same stimulus on a TV first, followed by a smartphone. By creating campaigns with cross-screen appeal, marketers can help to further drive the retention rates of their advertising. If you would like to read more about this research, download the whitepaper here.
Mobile brings many opportunities in terms of advertising and can maximize the impact of your message. We need to create campaigns that appeal not only to the right senses but also the right screens and appeal to people who are mobile-minded by being more efficient in your messaging, putting the key messages points within the first 10 seconds and taking advantage of cross-screen opportunities to extend your reach.
Facebook shared all these insights with the world, and this step should help marketers understand what role neuroscience can play in market research. According to Helen Crossley, this study has revealed that there are more opportunities to research how people’s brains respond and process advertising through the lens of neuromarketing.

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