During his presentation at this past week’s DigSouth digital tech conference in Charleston, SC, Nielsen’s first-ever neuroscientist, Dr. Carl Marci reminded us that while our gray matter doesn’t weigh much (around 3 lbs.), it hogs more energy than any other human organ. If you’re a marketer and haven’t yet taken a deep dive into biometrics, eye tracking, facial coding and other techniques, it’s time to take a very close look.
You can’t control the consumer brain, but you can control the stimuli, thanks to the work being done in neuroscience labs like Nielsen’s (there’s one in Atlanta, by the way). It’s here that neuroscientists are learning how our brains filter, process, tag relevance and ultimately compel us to act in some fashion. The results are reinforcing some things we sort of know but delude ourselves about. For example, your awesome ability to multi-task is meaningless. You’re forcing your brain to work in turbo mode, but all that hard work delivers subpar results.
One particularly intriguing learning from the consumer neuroscience work being done by companies like Nielsen is a better understanding of how your brain processes and filters what it sees and hears to establish personal relevance. Relevance matters big-time to today’s marketers, whether you’re developing creative, words or audio. As Dr. Marci put it: “Advertising ceases to be advertising when it’s relevant.” Consumer neuroscience is unraveling how marketing messages impact areas of the brain, such as the precuneus and pre-frontal cortex, where self-identity and personal relevance take shape.
It’s the non-conscious processing, that instant response without benefit of rational thought or conscious decision making (read Nobel laureate Dean Kahneman’s excellent book on the topic of slow vs. fast thinking) that is especially valuable in this age of information access and overload. Starting to understand why a campaign, from ads to other digital content, does or doesn’t light up the consumer brain is heady stuff indeed.
When most of us decided on a marketing or public relations career, neuroscience was undoubtedly not part of the curriculum. Thankfully, we have access to the latest learnings and can apply them to developing more relevant consumer campaigns.
Let us know if you're interested in diving into bio-metrics research.