Your Brain on Ads

November 15th, 2010 in Uncategorized 5 comments

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Obviously, our brain is the most complex part of our body, but did you ever think that people would use its powers to persuade and manipulate you to buy products seen in advertisements?

Well, with the ever-changing and enhancing state of technology these days, it is no surprise that people would be bound to create more amazing advancements, especially when applied to consumerism. Neuromarketers, groups of researchers who use techniques from neuroscience to study people’s reactions to products, are bringing new studies to the forefront due to the fact that only 2 percent of the brain’s energy is expended on conscious activities.

A.K. Pradeep, founder and chief executive of NeuroFocus, a neuromarketing firm based in Berkeley, California, believes that the only way to truly understand people’s inclinations is through studying their subconscious. Therefore, NeuroFocus has led the way in this upcoming field by researching volunteers through the use of eye-tracking devices and measuring the brain’s electrical frequencies.


A volunteer undergoing testing that focuses on measuring his brain’s electrical frequencies and his eye movements.

By tapping into this realm, researchers are able to get a clear view of people’s unconscious thoughts when viewing commercials, movie trailers, or web sites. As Dr. Pradeep says, “We basically compute the deep subconscious response to stimuli.”

This process has now led way to multiple companies forming in hopes of furthering the development of neuromarketing. And many big-name sponsors -such as Google, CBS, and Disney- have used neuromarketing to test consumer responses to advertisements, even political ones.

However, some people are concerned that companies could take advantage of consumer’s thoughts and use those against them.

“If I persuaded you to choose Toothpaste A or Toothpaste B, you haven’t really lost much, but if I persuaded you to choose President A or President B, the consequences could be much more profound” Dr.Pradeep says.

The likelihood of this is not large since companies are not focusing heavily on the political side of things and we do still have control over our brains.

A professor of neuroscience and psychology at Berkeley, Dr. Robert T. Knight explains that neuromarketing may distinguish between one’s positive or negative emotions, but it cannot be specific enough as to say whether one’s positive emotion is joy or excitement. The only measurable variable is if the viewer pays attention. No correlation has been made between the brain-pattern responses to neuromarketing and purchasing or reactionary behavior.

Whatever your opinion, the initiative is just beginning, and the Advertising Research Foundation has developed a project for defining industrywide standards based off of reviewing research done by participating neuromarketing firms.

The future looks bright for these companies as sponsors have poured in with great interest, but only time will tell the fate of our brains being used for or against us.

Neuromarketing – Ads That Whisper to the Brain - NYTimes.com

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