Neuromarketing Science & Business Association (NMSBA)

Articles and Blogposts

  • November 23, 2015 12:33 | Anonymous

    Author: Hayk Khachatryan, Bridget K. Behe, Benjamin Campbell, Charles Hall and Jennifer H. Dennis. No 150333, 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. from Agricultural and Applied Economics Association

    Research Description

    This research focuses on the relationship between impulsive  buying behavior and product attributes, evaluated with the use of neuromarketing techniques. Specifically, this research examines a consumer’s likelihood to purchase horticultural transplant based on the signage and characteristics of plants displayed. The Green Industry market is mature, and it is clear that innovation and marketing will drive growth. This study expands on previous research conducted, which examined the relationship between product specific characteristics and choice behavior. It expanded on previous work by collecting gaze duration on product signs, and tested the relationship between impulsive purchase behavior and likelihood to purchase.


    Eye-tracking technologies were used to evaluate the relat

    ionship between likelihood to purchase and impulsive purchase behavior. These technologies allowed us to indirectly assess intention.  We hypothesized that impulsive buying behaviors are influenced by eye gaze patterns, which occur at the subconscious level. Finally it also examines how plant signs are viewed, and which characteristics are most important to consumers. We set out to determine if buying impulsiveness influences intentions to purchase, and if the effects of impulsiveness will be impacted by gaze duration. A display was created that contained three types of plants with three blank signs spaced equally throughout. Using Photoshop, text was added to the signs describing the environmentally friendly production methods, price, and plant type. Sixteen scenarios were designed and presented to participants at six North American universities. Verbal, behavioral and eye tracking data were collected.


    Research showed that there was a moderate and positive relationship between a consumer’s likelihood to buy and eco-friendly production methods, which were preferred over conventional methods. Less impulsive people and women were more likely to buy plants, while education and income were inversely related to the purchase of plants.  

    Data revealed that energy saving was the most important indicator of a purchase, and that the time spent looking at prices increased as prices rose. Those with a higher impulse score were not concerned about environmentally friendly features of the plants.  Likelihood to purchase increased along with the number of individuals in a family, but as education and income rose, likelihood to purchase declined. There is a positive relationship between likelihood to purchase and production method. While it was not surprising to find a positive relationship between likelihood to purchase and production method, new insights were gathered in the role of impulsiveness on plant choice and production method. Lower impulse levels are correlated with a greater probability to purchase, while more thoughtful consumers are more likely to purchase plants grown using eco-friendly practices. Gaze duration results suggest that more impulsive consumers may disregard production practices and related product descriptors displayed at the point-of-sale.


    Marketers can use the research data to better understand the role of product attributes and consumer characteristics when making purchase decisions. With more than half of the decision making process occurring subconsciously, it is important to understand the role that product attributes play when decisions are made. The research reveals that in order to achieve higher sales growth, businesses need to understand their target clientele and develop labeling strategies that cater to their target audiences. 

    Contact Person:

    Hayk Khachatryan /

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015. (The yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here)

  • November 09, 2015 16:36 | Anonymous

    Author: Vecchiato et al. “Neuroelectrical Brain Imaging Tools for the Study of the Efficacy of TV Advertising Stimuli and their Application to Neuromarketing”. Springer. Series: Biosystems & Biorobotics, Vol. 3. 2013, XVIII, 136 p. 55 illus.

    Research Description

    Nowadays, neuroscientific methodologies include powerful brain imaging tools to gather the hemodynamic or electromagnetic signals related  to the human brain activity during the performance of a relevant marketing task. Each year, a huge amount of money is used to promote commercial communications. It is really important for marketing research to provide benchmarks and evaluations of how the commercials impacted on people. The reason why marketing researchers are interested in the use of brain imaging tools, instead of simply asking people to indicate their preferences in front of marketing stimuli, arises from the assumption that people cannot –or do not want to- fully explain their preferences when explicitly asked. Hence, marketers are investigating the use of neuroimaging tools to quantitatively assess the outcome of a produced advertisement. In this study, the focus was to measure and analyze the brain activity and the emotional engagement that occurred during the “naturalistic” observation of commercial ads. The final goal was to link significant variations of electroencephalographic and autonomic variables with the cognitive and emotional reactions to the TV advertisements presented. In order to do that, different indexes were employed to summarize the performed measurements and to be used in the statistical analysis.


    Since temporal resolution of milliseconds is necessary to track the shifts of brain activity related to the processing of visual and acoustic stimuli of TV commercials, functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) devices cannot return information on which scenes of an advertisement are of interest for people and which ones are not. On the other hand, high resolution electroencephalography (hrEEG) is able to detect rapid changes of the cortical activity on a temporal scale of milliseconds. Moreover, EEG devices are relatively inexpensive, robust and even wearable by people, making such technology suitable for the evaluation of marketing stimuli. Also, indirect signs of the emotional processing can also be collected by picking variations of the anatomical structures activity linked to the limbic system, such as one of the sweat glands of the hands and the variability of the heart rate. The particular procedure of the experimental task consisted of observing a documentary in which a series of TV commercials were inserted. The experimental subjects were told to pay attention to the movie they would be watching, and were unaware that an interview would be held within a couple of hours after the end of the recording. In the interview, the subjects were asked to recall commercial clips they remembered and to score them according to the degree of pleasantness they perceived. The dataset was then divided into several subgroups in order to highlight differences between the cerebral activity related to the observation of the remembered and forgotten ads, and those between the liked against the disliked commercials. Finally, the experimental questions of the present study were the following: are there particular EEG activities correlating with the memorization and the perceived interest related to the observed TV commercial? Are there particular cerebral and autonomic indexes describing the emotional state experienced while watching the TV commercial?


    The hrEEG technologies allowed to track the temporal trend of the cortical activities to be analyzed thanks to a high temporal and spatial resolution, distinguishing changes of activation of cortical areas by means of a graphical representation on an average brain model. The reconstruction of the cortical activity Led to highlight the cerebral regions that were significantly activated when compared to the observation of the documentary, frame by frame. Statistical cortical spectral maps returned that the theta band activity during the observation of the TV commercials that were remembered is higher and localized in the left frontal brain areas when compared to the activity elicited by forgotten advertisements. A similar increase of the alpha rhythms occurred during the observation of advertisements that were judged pleasant when compared with the others. Both cognitive and emotional processing have been described by the Memorization (MI), Attention (AI) and Pleasantness Index (PI). The percentage of spontaneous recall is linearly correlated with the MI values (R2=0.68, p<0.01). In particular, when both MI and AI are below their average values the percentage of spontaneous recall (18%) is below average as well. This percentage is slightly increased (20%) when the AI exceeds the average threshold. The highest values of spontaneous recall correspond to MI values above average. In fact, in this case the percentage reaches the value of 33% when the AI is below average and the value of 41% when both MI and AI are above average. As to the PI, the de-synchronization of left alpha frontal activity is positively correlated with judgments of high pleasantness. In addition, the heart rate activity elicited during the observation of the TV commercials that were remembered or judged pleasant is higher than the activity during the observation of commercials that will be forgotten or were judged unpleasant.


    The results underline that properties of the EEG rhythms, collected during the observation of TV advertisements, are linked with the overt preferences of the observers in terms of cognition and emotion. They can be used to generate metrics that automatically point to parts of the examined commercials that are congruent from the emotional and the cognitive point of view. This information could be used a posteriori to redraw the advertisement in order to highlight the pleasant frames while suppressing the unpleasant ones. Finally, these tools allow the cognitive and emotional processes dynamics tobe analyzed.

    Final Thoughts

    From the marketing researcher’s point of view, there is the hope that these brain-imaging techniques will provide an efficient trade-off between the costs and benefits of the research. Improving the quality of the marketing messages will enable industries to waste less money in the production of ineffective or inappropriate advertisements and help them to better match the demands of people related to the products being advertised. The use of neuroimaging tools in the evaluation of the commercial ads will help to reduce the amount of money that is wasted in the advertising industry.

    Contact information: Giovanni Vecchiato /

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click hereto order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015. (The yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here

  • October 20, 2015 13:25 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Life&Brain and Siegfried Voegele Institute

    An important and costly issue for marketers is the placement of TV ads. Longer commercials might have a stronger impact on consumers, but are also more costly. Methods that might help to decide whether a shorter version creates the same impact would be very helpful. In this study we investigated how functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can be applied to the analysis of TV commercials in addition to eye-tracking.

    Our study was performed on a 1.5 Tesla MRI (Siemens Avanto). The commercial was presented to the subjects via video goggles and soundproof headphones. Response Grips were used to record the behavior of the subjects. In order to gain a more complete picture of the performance and impact of the commercial we used eye-tracking in addition to the fMRI measurement. The subject of the investigation was a commercial for Deutsche Post - DHL . It ran nationwide to advertise the launch of the E-Postbrief . The E-Postbrief is a service of sending and receiving emails with high safety standards. Users can also have their e-mail delivered by a classic, postal mail service. 

    The examined commercial was aired in two different versions which differed in length. The short version corresponded exactly to the last 30 seconds of the long one, which had a length of 50 seconds. Since we wanted to investigate how the perception of the two versions differed, we divided the total of 38 subjects randomly into two equal groups: Group long vs. Group short. Both groups only watched one of the two versions. In the first 20 seconds of the long version a suggestive atmosphere was used to illustrate the dangers of the internet. In accordance with this intention, the atmosphere of this part can be characterized as dark, sleazy, cluttered, loud, hectic, confusing, dubious and futuristic. 

    In the subsequent 30 seconds the commercial showed how the E-Postbrief can help customers to address these problems. In contrast to the first part the atmosphere here was bright, idyllic, clear, calm, tranquil, friendly and familiar. 

    Subjective Ratings
    During the presentation of the commercial, subjects were asked about different attitudes towards the ad. 18.75 % of Group long subjects described the commercial as “threatening”, whereas in Group short no one agreed with this statement, as intended by the creators of this commercial.

    Using an eye-tracker, we investigated the perception of the two versions. We defined areas of interest (AOI) and compared the average dwell times between the two groups.

    We found that subjects of Group long looked (significantly) longer at all marketing-related AOIs (e.g.:

    slogan, logo, product features, etc.) than subjects of the other group. Subsequent analyses showed that the longer dwell time had no positive effect on the impact though, i.e. neither on recall of the information nor on the rating of the commercial.

    In order to compare the two groups with each other, we focused on the last 30 seconds of the long version. As already stated, those exactly match the short version. The only difference between the two groups therefore was that subjects of Group long had additionally seen the threatening atmosphere in the first part of the commercial. 

    Contrasting the activation patterns of both groups revealed stronger activity in the insula for subjects of Group long as compared with Group short. This brain region, among others, is associated with aversive emotional arousal. As this part of the commercial was completely identical for both groups only the first part of the commercial could be responsible for this activity.

    The threatening atmosphere in the first part of the commercial seems to affect the neural processing and perception of the second part, i.e. there seems to be a hangover effect of the threatening atmosphere, which cannot be completely resolved by the positive atmosphere of the second part. Subjects of Group long were still dealing with the negative emotions that had been triggered by the first part while watching the second. Without the use of fMRI these effects would have remained hidden from us. According to the available data the idea to arouse potential customers in the first part and then offer a solution in the second does not seem suitable to present the product in the desired manner. The positive atmosphere of the second part - which should rather be linked to the product and the brand - is instead dominated by the negative emotions evoked in the first part. 

    Final Thoughts
    In many commercials companies attempt to fan fear in order to motivate potential customers to purchase certain products and services. This strategy still enjoys great popularity among banks and insurance companies. Many marketers disregard the fact that our brain gives more weight to negative information than to positive. The reason for this difference in treatment is evolutionarily grounded and an important part of human survival strategy. 

    How the aversive emotions affect the perception of the product and brand on the long run was not the subject of this study and requires further investigation. 

    Contact Information
    Joined work between “Life&Brain” and “Siegfried Voegele Institute – International company for dialog marketing”

    Contact Persons:
    Professor Dr. Bernd Weber /
    Dr. Chrisian Holst: Holst /

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015. (The yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here)

  • September 22, 2015 13:06 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: EigenWijze Marketing

    Testing Estelle online campaign for Courlux

    We were asked to optimize the conversions by applying neuromarketing techniques and psychological insights. The case in question was an online campaign for women’s razors. The conversion in this case was the request to test a women’s razor by filling in an order form. Our customer was curious about the effect of persuasion techniques.


    In this campaign we wanted to be more responsive to emotions. Triggering emotion is crucial if a subject is to be prompted to take action. When women shave, they prefer to do this in a clean and fresh environment. The bathroom used in the original design looked dull and grimy, and did not give a particularly hygienic impression. In addition, the bold colors of the letters used in the ad had a cheap appearance. We gave the design a more friendly and feminine appeal and added a greater sense of experience. We also provided the “What’s in it for me” aspect by asking the question “Are your legs ready for summer?” We always see things from our own perspective, so it’s important to formulate a proposition from their advantage. This has the greatest effect of triggering the customer.

    Priming elements were also added such as droplets of water in the header, beach sand at the bottom, flip-flops and a map to conjure up a true holiday feeling. When a woman walks along a beach or wears flip-flops, she usually has bare legs or bare feet, so it is vital that her legs are perfectly smooth. The USP buttons were also changed into droplets of water and the text was made more specific. The colors applied in the design were fresher looking, more feminine and less blatant. The online neuromarketer reported all this advice, which the art director then translated into a visual design.


    The proposed neurovariant achieved a 36.6% higher conversion than the original version. This was an extremely positive result, and our work on this project was highly appreciated by the customer. We are currently optimizing more campaigns for the same customer, and are performing projects for many other enthusiastic companies.


    Provoking the right emotion in the target group is essential. It is therefore crucial to know who your target group is and what kind of experience you want to create. An essential factor in this respect is elements that are not consciously perceived.

    Final Thoughts

    Dare to go beyond traditional marketing tools and never underestimate the power of the unconscious brain!

    Contact Information
    Eigen&Wijze Internetmarketing
    The Netherlands
    Contact Person: Linda Oosterveld,

    Want to learn more about online persuasion? Visit the Shopper Brain Conference on October 15-16 in Amsterdam!

  • September 02, 2015 09:15 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Decode Marketing

    Leveraging decision science for British Telecom

    BT operates in a highly competitive market (broadband, TV, phone) in the UK vs Sky, Virgin and others. Response rates to their offers had been falling and they had to meet aggressive sales targets. They needed a new approach because their ”traditional” research was not giving them the reasons for the low response.

    This was a consultancy approach to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their communications. Recommendations were made based on principles of perception, attention, cognition and motivation from the fields of ”decision science” (cognitive psychology, neuroscience, social psychology and behavioral economics). No research was conducted.

    The advice was executed in direct response TV and print advertising. Response rates rose by 85% and 76% respectively compared to their previous benchmarks. As a result they met their aggressive sales targets and customer acquisition costs were halved. The client (General Manager, Marketing) commented that these response rates were “the highest in living memory”at BT.

    The conclusion, as an ex-Marketing VP myself, is ”if only Marketing knew what science knows”. In this case, no research was required - simply the application of principles already studied and known in the fields of decision science.

    Contact Information
    Decode marketing ltd, United Kingdom
    Contact Person:
    Phil Barden,

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 which has just been published. (The yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here)

  • August 11, 2015 13:27 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: AAT Research

    Testing website design and user interaction for GFI Software

    The project for GFI Software was related to the company’s process of re-designing its key customer-facing website,, and designing and launching The two sites are positioned to engage with a number of target user groups. The organization of content (text, photography and video) within the overall design and layout schemas of the new sites are critical factors in  determining whether users will actually interact with content in the manner envisaged by the GFI project team -i.e., whether they will progress to specific inner pages within the site, click on promotions, engage with specific areas, proceed to checkout, etc. 

    GFI entrusted AAT Research to apply its neuromarketing expertise and proprietary technology to conduct in-depth usability analysis of the proposed design schemas of the new sites by testing a large number of webpage templates (screens). At AAT we were confident that we were in a position to help optimize GFI’s online marketing and customer relationship management operations by focusing on the areas of the brain that would produce the desired response in GFI target demographic groups. In the process, this will help GFI secure a competitive advantage in an aggressive marketplace.

    GFI Software opted for neuromarketing testing as opposed to their usual market testing using focus groups due to the high importance they attributed to these new websites. They believed that neuromarketing techniques could assist them in creating a more engaging experience for their new and regular customers. AAT Research and GFI had already successfully collaborated on a neuromarketing project related to software design so it was only natural that we would extend our collaboration to the testing of the design and functionality of their websites. 

    The project was divided into two phases. The aim of the first phase of the study was to obtain physiological evidence on how people respond to specific elements of the dummy website design using screenshots. A specific battery of tests to highlight sections of the site that triggered “user friendliness” and attention were accurately designed. The website was then created with these results as guidelines. The aim of the second phase was to test the subjects’ physiological response to the actual website design and functionality once it was put online.

    In a project with the scope and scale of the GFI Project, data was gathered using a range of equipment including a clinical 21-channel EEG system, eye-tracking cameras, Galvanic Skin Response, and purposely built software for cognitive analysis and analysis of mouse movement when navigating through the actual website. By analyzing EEG readings, it is possible to detect the processes that lead to certain decisions and to determine the part of the brain that implemented these processes. The additional physiological data gathered on changes in skin temperature, eye movement, as well as mouse movement and clicks, creates a more holistic and accurate picture of the subjects’ responses to specific triggers.

    The results show that the most effective parts of the webpages are those which mention the company’s products. Subjects focused on these areas as these are the details that offer a product to the customer.

    They lingered on these details as they tried to figure out which product could be of use to them. Sections of the websites which attracted attention were those with colorful details and a visually stimulating layout. This is important to maintain the overall attention span of the subject. If the subject gets bored he or she will quickly move on to another page. Some areas which had too many focal points, created by colored details or buttons, did not hold attention for a considerable period on a particular area, but the eyes, and mouse, moved from one section to the other quickly. This means that the subjects did not stop to consider the information that was given at each section.

    Subjects generally do not focus on areas which contain a lot of text, but read subtitles which are usually in a different color or held in a colored button. These therefore contain short but effective information from which the subjects obtain an indication of what can be of personal interest.

    Users, especially those who are executive, do not have much time on their hands so they need brief details that give enough information quickly, without having to scroll or enter other pages.

    The results show that both websites were engaging and maintained the users’ attention and interest. The pages were also visually enticing and the design concept was highly successful. A number of recommendations were made based on the results gathered, particularly regarding the use of colored details, images and text placement.

    The research on this project for GFI shows that neuromarketing can be an integral part of the design process of any product. Testing was done on the first drafts of the design of the webpages. The results indicated to the designers which areas were effective and which needed amending. The final functional website was tested in the second phase. This project indicates that neuromarketing is not just useful for testing final products, but also for testing products in the design phase therefore saving the developer time and money by being set on the right track from the start.

    Final Thoughts
    Neuromarketers can, and should, work hand in hand with designers, engineers and developers, every step of the way.

    Contact Information:
    AAT Research Ltd, Malta
    Contact Person: Krystle Farrugia

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 which has just been published. (The yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here)  

    Interested in neuromarketing applied to retail? Take a look at the website of the Shopper Brain Conference to learn more about this!

  • July 17, 2015 13:46 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Neurons Inc 

    Test effects of ad exposure on in-store neural responses for a major North American retail corporation

    Little is still understood about the actual in-store purchase process, and research is often limited by traditional research methods that rely on conscious self-reports. While traditional market research methods only allow recording of actual purchase and customers’ self-reports about the reasons behind their choices, neuromarketing methods allow better assessment and understanding of key unconscious processes underlying consumer choice.

    Here, we report the result of two consumer neuroscience studies that explore whether in-store decisions can be traced to immediate neural responses that precede conscious deliberation.

    In Study 1 we used mobile eye-tracking and electroencephalography (EEG) to identify key neural responses that predict in-store purchase. Customers were asked to complete five different purchase tasks, and were free to use or save money they had previously been given. We used Area of Interest analysis to extract attentional and neural responses when customers looked at a particular product. All data were corrected for movement and eye blink artefacts. To assess customer motivation, we analyzed the prefrontal asymmetry index (PAI) in the gamma frequency. 

    In Study 2 we employed the same methodology to test the effects of prior ad exposure on in-store physiological, neural and behavioral responses. Customers were shown a series of commercials prior to entering the store, and while one group saw a particular commercial for paint, the control group saw all other commercials except this one. We assessed both the level of visual attention and neural motivation (PAI) while customers performed tasks inside the store. Crucially, we compared the effects of prior ads on visual attention and PAI when customers were instructed to purchase paint. 

    Customer in-store choices are rapid and unconscious. Our two studies demonstrate that long before customers are consciously aware of it, unconscious responses are driving their in-store responses. Besides showing this main effect, we demonstrate that prior exposure to ad materials can affect unconscious attentional and motivational responses that ultimately lead to increased chance of purchase. 

    Final Thoughts
    Our results highlight the importance of the assessment and understanding of rapid, unconscious responses in the in-store situation. Our method provides a protocol for assessing these responses, allowing future studies to improve our understanding of the actual drivers of in-store consumer choice. Such studies could explore the effect of entry signs, in-store signage or long-term effects of ad exposure on in-store behavior.

    Contact Information
    Neurons Inc, Denmark
    Contact Person: Dr. Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 which has just been published. (The yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here)  

    Interested in neuromarketing applied to retail? Take a look at the website of the Shopper Brain Conference to learn more about this!

  • June 26, 2015 16:26 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Neuromatters

    Messages can be conveyed through a variety of media such as written or spoken stories, movies, and advertisements. Their impact on human psychology ranges widely from what events we remember most easily to our choices about important foundational behaviors. Since the brain is the proximate cause of our actions, narratives have a direct impact on the neurobiological processes of both the senders and receivers of them. Understanding how narratives inform neurobiological processes is critical if we are to ascertain what effect narratives have on the psychology and neurobiology of human choices and behaviors. Yet, there is at present a lack of practical and non-invasive sensing platforms to understand, detect and present neural events triggered by narratives, ultimately leading to a predictive model of consumer behavior.

    It has been previously shown, using fMRI and electrocorticography (ECoG), that narratives can evoke synchronized and time-locked activity in many brain areas across listeners when presented with the same stimuli. This neural synchrony has been shown to correlate with retention of events that occur in a narrative, as well as effective comprehension during a two-way dialog. Neural synchrony is also modulated in strength by the narrative content, in the sense that a cohesive narrative elicits stronger neural synchrony. As such, neural synchrony may be an important and valuable tool to assess the effectiveness of a story. However, fMRI and ECoG are not feasible in practice – they are not portable imaging modalities, they are expensive, and, in the case of ECoG, they are invasive.

    Neuromatters is developing a portable, practical, and non-invasive sensing platform (using scalp EEG and other physiological measurements) to capture and decode neural activity elicited by narrative stimuli. The cognitive capture platform will be available as a service to aid in the design of optimal  arratives/ads/movies and will be the first such tool to be validated in predicting behavioral outcomes for targeted demographics.

    Neuromatters is developing the Cognitive Capture™ System (CCS), a software suite for comprehensive neuroanalytics of narratives. Its technologies rest upon Neuromatters’ proprietary modular architecture, which enables easy integration of/with sensors, simulation environments, analytics tools and neural decoding engines. CCS integrates the Neural Synchrony Toolbox™ (NST) with Cognitive Storyboards™ to provide a commercial-grade platform for extracting, decoding and tracking neural activity elicited by complex, realworld stimuli to predict behavioral outcomes, such as purchase intent, brand alignment, memory recall, or other business-relevant behaviors as stipulated by clients and thereby alter human behavior.

    The Cognitive Capture™ System ultimately enables content-creators to produce engaging narratives by providing objective, quantitative and temporally precise measures of viewers’cognitive state throughout the duration of the story.

    Contact Information
    Neuromatters, USA
    Contact Person: Paul DeGuzman

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 which has just been published. (The yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here
  • June 05, 2015 15:11 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: SalesBrain

    Over the last 20 years, Wafacash has enjoyed a dominant market share in the cash transfer and payment banking business in Morocco. Wafacash is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Attijariwafa banking group which is the largest bank in North Africa and the sixth largest on the African continent. Since its creation, Wafacash has also enjoyed a strong reputation and exemplary financial health. The business of cash handling appeals to a majority of Moroccans who do not trust traditional banks: they value the privacy of saving and paying using cash without the requirement of opening a bank account. A large majority of Wafacash customers live and work outside Morocco. Many customers belong to the lowest income earners in the country, while a significant percentage is illiterate. The retail network of over 1200 outlets makes Wafacash a convenient and friendly solution for people scattered throughout Morocco.

    At the end of 2012, while Wafacash had done its share of consumer studies, the management believed that continuing to conduct focus groups or traditional one-on-one interviews would fail to generate innovative consumer insights. Furthermore, an increasingly competitive environment was putting urgent pressure on Wafacash to re-examine the relevance and strength of its core message. Wafacash therefore approached SalesBrain to explore how neuromarketing methods could yield innovative consumer insights to develop and quickly deploy a more effective advertising and communication strategy.


    SalesBrain proposed a three-step process to:
    1.       generate innovative neuroinsights
    2.       assess key emotional decision drivers from current and future customers
    3.       create a new messaging strategy based on a brand new neurophysiological understanding of customers’ fears and motivations towards the services offered by Wafacash.

    Step 1:
    Generation of neuroinsights through the use of voice layered analysis (LVA) and facial imaging (FI )
    The objective of this phase was to collect customer information that did not entirely depend on selfreports. To achieve this, and considering the challenges of interviewing people who were known by Wafacash to provide over-simplified answers, we recommended the use of LVA software and facial imaging technology. We used LVA software during 24 in-depth qualitative interviews with customers and non-customers. LVA extracts about 20 vocal parameters and uses thousands of mathematical algorithms to identify emotional variables in the interviewee’s voice such as stress level, cognitive overload or sadness.

    We used facial imaging technology to test the neurophysiological effect of current advertising messages on a sample of 24 people. The human face contains 43 muscles, which when contracted in various patterns can display about 5,000 unique expressions or emotions. Seven of these expressions are universal, although their intensity and duration may vary slightly with culture.

    Step 2:
    Quantification of most important emotional drivers
    We performed a face to face study of 300 people with a questionnaire which accounted for the neuroinsights generated in step 1. Data processing included a cluster analysis leading to the creation of two groups of customers with distinct psychological and emotional profiles.

    Step 3:
    Development of a new campaign based on qualitative and quantitative data collected during step 1 and 2. 

    The LVA revealed the presence of many frustrations and pet peeves that had been historically misunderstood by Wafacash. More precisely, the data suggested that Wafacash underestimated the toll specific frustrations could have on the customer’s experience. Examples of these frustrations include: not being able to access cash at any desired time, not understanding fees charged for transfers, complicated procedures, transfer delays, and dirty bank sites. 

    The facial imaging study revealed that some of the narratives used in current commercials generated far less emotional responses than others. The results also clearly identified opportunities to do a better job lifting the emotional effect of TV spots during the last 10 seconds, regardless of the narrative. The study also allowed the marketing group to compare the relative effect of print, billboard, TV and radio ads based on the presence or absence of the seven universal emotions generated during testing.

    The quantitative phase offered an opportunity to measure the relative and more subjective importance of specific frustrations, expectations, attitudes and satisfactions towards the Wafacash brand. The cluster analysis provided the first opportunity the company ever had to examine the strategic differences between two distinct groups of customers. The typological analysis was not based on the traditional descriptive variables such as age or income, but rather on emotional variables, especially core fears. As such, this type of data analysis provided a much easier way to leverage the data in a strategic discussion around operational and communication strategies Wafacash could immediately adopt to appeal to each group.

    The process followed by SalesBrain led to the creation and company-wide adoption of new claims articulating the value proposition of Wafacash to its customers. The neuroinsights generated during the qualitative phase were innovative and revealed objective information from customers that had never been collected before. The quantitative phase built upon the analysis and relevance of the neuroinsights delivered greater clarity in terms of the psychographic profiles of core customer

    groups. With a better understanding of such groups, the management was able to quickly create and adopta new messaging campaign. The campaign was swiftly accepted and deployed throughout the  network of 600+ retail sites.

    Final Thoughts
    Wafacash is now committed to using more neuromarketing tools in the future to test the effectiveness of messages before they are rolled out. The management team has been trained to understand and use neuromarketing as a competitive advantage.

    Contact Information
    SalesBrain LLC , United States
    Dr. Christophe Morin,

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 which has just been published. (The yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here

  • May 26, 2015 13:49 | Simone Oude Luttikhuis

    Author: Victor Lamme, University of Amsterdam

    Pre-testing of TV commercials by having focus groups evaluate various storyboards is common practice, given the considerable costs of airing commercials and the need to allocate marketing budget to the most effective campaign. Functional MRI -based neuromarketing allows us to by-pass focus groups, surveys and other traditional market research methods, making better and more reliable predictions of effectivity. For instance, it has been shown that the effectiveness of anti-smoking campaigns is predicted better by brain scans than by the opinions of marketing experts (Falk et al 2012).

    At Neurensics we have shown that the effectiveness of TV commercials (measured by Effie award winning TVCs) can be predicted with over 80% accuracy using fMRI -based technology (Lamme & Scholte 2013). Huge sums of money can be saved in airing costs by this kind of testing. Even so, it remains problematic having to conclude that a TV commercial is better not aired, after the -highcosts of production have been incurred. However, if guided by neuromarketing expertise it would still be possible to alter a commercial post production, by re-editing, changing music, voiceovers etc. It would be even more helpful to have a tool that allows the effectiveness to be tested prior to production.

    Reverse engineering of storyboards from TV commercials
    Ideas for TV commercials are often pitched in the form of a storyboard. A sequence of images is drawn, accompanied by a brief story explaining the general idea or concept. We tested to what extent these kinds of storyboards resemble the brain activation of the final TVC, and therefore whether they can be used to predict the final TVC’s effectiveness. Twelve TV commercials were sketched back into storyboard format in a systematic manner: key shots of the TV commercial were transformed into cartoon drawings, typically 10 shots per commercial. A (male) voice-over was used to explain the story of the commercial, reading the final packshot message aloud. The drawings and voice-over were compiled into a slide show with the same length as the original commercial.

    While lying in the MRI scanner, subjects viewed the storyboards followed by the actual commercials. To evaluate TVCs we use a proprietary method where we record activity from 13 neural networks, representing a typical (largely unconscious) emotion or brain valuation. These emotions (mappers) are grouped into four clusters: positive emotions, negative emotions, personal appeal, and general impact. Our previous research shows that the balance between positive and negative emotions is most indicative of TV commercial effectiveness. We correlate the mapper values obtained for a storyboard with those obtained for the actual commercial, to test to what extent storyboards have any predictive value for the neural impact of TVCs.

    The example illustrates the principle of analysis. Both storyboard and TV commercial evoke fairly similar (but not identical) mapper values. Note for example, how negative emotions are generally higher than positive emotions. This similarity can be expressed in the correlation value, which in this case is 0.76. A value of 1.0 would indicate perfect similarity.

    TV commercials can be predicted from their storyboards
    In the sample of commercials and storyboards that we tested, we found cases of fairly high and low correlation, but never negative correlations. On average, the correlation value is 0.35. This value is comparable to the correlation value of 0.37 that is obtained when each individual value of the TV commercial is plotted against the value obtained for the storyboard. Statistically, the correlation is highly significant (p = 0.0004). These results indicate something very important: relatively simple images and narrative of storyboards have a reliable predictive value for the neural impact that TVCs will have, if made according to these storyboards. 

    In evaluating our results, we found that not all mappers are equally predictive. For some mappers (such as attention) there is a very high correlation. In others, however, the correlation is low. An obvious way of improving predictive value is to collapse emotions to their main axes (positive emotions, negative emotions, personal appeal and general impact). At the level of the main axes, storyboard values correlate very significantly with TVC values (R = 0.48, p = 0.002). This shows that our method is very well suited to evaluate the future pos-neg balance of a commercial, with a correlation of up to 0.64 (p = 0.03). And as we have seen in the Effie study (Lamme & Scholte 2013), the balance between positive and negative emotions is a highly accurate predictor (over 80%) for a commercial’s ability to evoke sales intention.

    This study has proven that fMRI technology is very suitable for the evaluation of a commercial, prior to production. We found two levels of predictive value in the study. On the level of the 13 emotions, pretesting in this manner helps to prevent mistakes by avoiding emotions that have negative impact on the effectiveness of the TVC. At the level of the main axes, the tool predicts the ability to evoke sales intention. In making TV commercials, fMRI based storyboard testing is therefore a very cost-effective and reliable tool to predict the most successful course of action, early on.

    Final Thoughts
    We found that even a very simple storyboard can predict the neural impact of a TV commercial. This tool is most suited to compare different TVC proposals, when a decision needs to be made about which of these will result in the highest conversion. We propose that storyboards are made relatively early on, and tested for their effectiveness in influencing consumer behavior already in the conceptual stage. For the first time a tool is available that can change the advertising industry. No longer do we need to wait for a commercial to work. We will now know this in advance.


    Falk EB, Berkman ET & Lieberman MD (2012) From Neural Responses to Population Behavior. Neural Focus Group Predicts Population-Level Media Effects. Psychological Science, April 17, 2012 0956797611434964 Lamme VAF & Scholte HS (2013) TV commercial effectiveness predicted by functional MRI.
    Neuromarketing Science and Business Association Journal, Berns GS & Moore SE (2012) A neural predictor of cultural popularity, Journal of Consumer Psychology 22, 154–160

    Contact Information
    University of Amsterdam
    Contact Person: Victor Lamme,

    This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing yearbook of last year. Click here to order the Neuromarketing Yearbook 2015 which has just been published. (The yearbook is included in diverse NMSBA membership plans, review here

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