Neuromarketing: How Advertisers Are Getting Inside Our Brains

NeuromarketingNeuromarketing has found its niche in the world of pop science and consumerism. Focusing largely on the pleasure center of the brain, neuromarketing works to appeal to our pre-conscious brains, hooking us into an advertisement before we’ve consciously realized it. But how does it work? What’s the science behind neuromarketing? Let’s take a look at the data behind this marketing trend.

According to Roger Dooley, author of the influential books “Neuromarketing” and “Brainfluence,” 95 percent of what goes on in our brains is preconscious – from learning and emotions to thoughts and pleasure. If advertisers are only talking to the conscious 5 percent of the brain, they are missing out on their big chance to convert passive viewers into active customers. Still, the question remains: how do advertisers know what the preconscious brain wants? Unlike the conscious brain, it will not give up its secrets easily.

How It Works

This is where things start getting technical. Advertising teams join forces with neuroscientists and take a look at the brains of potential consumers using EEGs and fMRIs. EEGs can measure surface brain activity using a set of electrodes attached to the skull. fMRIs can measure much deeper brain activity using extremely strong magnets that measure the blood flow to different parts of the brain. The measurements are taken while subjects watch advertising clips, listen to music, or perform other tasks related to the product. By measuring activity in the brain it can be possible to tell which advertisement will sell products most efficiently, what songs will achieve commercial success, and more.

What It Means for Marketers

So what are the lessons of neuromarketing? Here’s what all that brain data has told advertisers:

  • Focus on your customers’ problems. Customers don’t want to hear all about how great your product is. What they want to know is how you are going to solve their problem.  Stop talking about yourself and start talking to the customer.
  • Faces are key. The brain responds better to images than to text because it can process the images more quickly. In particular, facial expressions register rapidly with the brain and leave a clear impression. Our brains recognize the emotional messages of facial expressions on a deep level that can quickly alter our response to an advertisement.
  • Keep it short. If you’re trying to communicate with the preconscious brain, you need to get in their fast. Bold headlines and short messages play best and are more likely to stick in the minds of your customers. Skip the long copy and go for a pithy slogan.
  • Focus on the beginning and end. The middle of an advertisement is just filler to the brain. What really matters is what happens at the beginning of the ad to hook the viewer in, and even more important, what happens at the end of the advertisement to keep the customer thinking about your product.

Neuromarketing is giving companies the opportunity to see how their ad campaigns will play out before they hit the general market. By employing the predictive powers of the pleasure center, companies have gained valuable insight.

Will you be using neuromarketing research to boost your brand?

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Bird Pilatsky is a PhD student in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Emory University. A graduate of Smith College, with a B.A. in English and the Study of Women and Gender. She works as an archivist and research assistant with particular interests in LGBT issues, disability studies, and literature. Bird also works as a summer camp counselor. She has worked as an art & layout editor, runs an active blog, and enjoys reading, running, and rollerskating.

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