What is Neuromarketing?


What is Neuromarketing?

So, you’re wondering - what is Neuromarketing? The name can probably give you a good hint, but to put it in simple terms: The practice of Neuromarketing involves the use of neuroscientific methodologies and tools to predict and understand real-world human (consumer) behaviour. If you’re looking for a slightly more formal definition - The Neuromarketing Science and Business Association (NMSBA), a global community of Neuromarketing professionals, provides the following definition of Neuromarketing:
“Neuromarketing uses neuroscience to reveal subconscious consumer decision-making processes. Neuromarketers study brain and biometric responses, as well as behaviour, to understand and shape how consumers feel, think and act”

Neuromarketing Tools and Methods

The tools and methods used in Neuromarking include, but are not limited to:
Electroencephalography (EEG)

EEG is the most popular method used in Neuromarketing today, thanks to EEG equipment becoming more affordable, portable and accessible in recent years. It works by measuring very subtle electrical signals emitted from the brain (also known as Brainwaves). The various types of brainwave variations can be used as a good indicator of the participant’s cognitive processing.
Image of woman wearing EEG cap
A woman wearing an EEG cap while participating in a Neuromarketing study
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)

fMRI is an excellent method for Neuromarketing, it is able to provide more detail compared to EEG when it comes to measuring things like how a person is feeling. fMRI works by measuring the blood oxygenation level of specific areas of the brain. Increased blood flow in certain regions of the brain can then be correlated with certain variables such as emotion. However, it is one of the least affordable and portable methods, making it less popular with Neuromarketing research companies.

Eye tracking

Eye tracking is a popular method because it is simple and easy to understand. It is able to provide insights into how people’s attention is directed to certain visual stimuli which could be anything from a package on a shelf, to a brand in an advertisement or even signs in an airport. Eye tracking is relatively inexpensive and can be a great additional indicator when used in collaboration with EEG to measure audio-visual synchronicity.

Implicit measures

Implicit measures aim to understand how certain brands and products are ‘connected’ to each other in the minds of consumers. This is important to understand because it provides an indication as to how these concepts are connected in the long-term memory of consumers. Implicit measures have been found to be a better indicator of attitudes when compared to explicit measures, especially in situations where people react impulsively or under pressure.

AI/Machine Learning

Over the past few years, significant progress has been made in the fields of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning which has been proven to have real-world applications in the field of Neuromarketing. Tools like expoze.io can provide eye-tracking results in a few seconds that are 95% accurate compared to traditional eye-tracking, without the need for any participants. Use-case-specific solutions like Junbi.ai have also been created to address specific Neuromarketing questions. In the case of Junbi.ai, it will provide eye-tracking results and benchmarking data to predict the effectiveness of YouTube advertisements.
eye tracking heat map comparison
Example of a traditional eye tracking heatmap compared to an AI-generated expoze.io heatmap

What are the real-world applications of Neuromarketing?

The real-world applications of Neuromarketing are relatively broad and expand far beyond the limits of just marketing and advertising. Neuromarketing studies can be used for the following applications (to name a few):

Setting pricing

With tools like fMRI, researchers can measure a person’s emotional response to a price and understand how it will make them feel. This can give a better indicator as to how to set the price of a product depending on how consumers react.

Improving branding

EEG and eye tracking can be great methods to improve branding. EEG helps brands to understand how well the brand can be recalled (remembered) and eye tracking provides a good indication of how much attention will go to the brand in certain contexts (e.g. on a billboard, TV ads, on a shelf)

Optimise product packaging

Product packaging can be optimised with the use of eye tracking. By understanding which elements of the package receive the most visual attention, brands can optimise the way they design and optimise their packaging to ensure the most attention is directed to the most important elements of the package.

Web and UI design

Website and UI design is another application that can be measured with eye tracking. It might be important for an e-commerce site for example to ensure that the ‘add to checkout’ button is clearly visible and stands out from the rest of the clutter, and this is something that could be understood very well through an eye tracking study.

Optimising YouTube ads

In the digital age, media spend on channels like YouTube are growing rapidly, especially with the development and growing uptake of Connected TV. But YouTube ads are not the exact same as traditional TV ads, so it’s important that advertisers can test and benchmark their ads against a real set of YouTube ads. This is where AI-powered Neuromarketing tools like Junbi.ai can add significant value for advertisers, who can test and benchmark their YouTube ads in just minutes, without needing to set up a full research study with participants. Take a look at an example output of a study performed on a Uber YouTube ad on Junbi.ai:

What are the benefits of Neuromarketing?

The benefits of Neuromarketing depend a little on the specific use-case and client. But generally speaking, when compared to traditional market research methods, Neuromarketing is able to able to more effectively answer ‘difficult’ questions like how will a consumer emotionally respond to an ad, how engaged are they, what will grab their attention and how aroused is the consumer likely to be by certain stimuli. It is possible to answer these questions with other methods such as surveys and focus groups, but they can be subjective and Neuromarketing methods are also better indicators of how consumers will behave with under time pressure or when acting impulsively.

What are the limitations of Neuromarketing?

Neuromarketing can be very insightful, but it is costly and time-consuming. Often brands do not have the luxury of setting up a multi-week ad testing study before they need their ad (or other content) to go live. And to make things even more difficult, having the time to then make changes to the ad with their production agency before going live further adds to the already difficult time-constraints.

According to an article from the Harvard Business Review, a survey of individuals from 64 neuromarketing firms revealed that only 31% of them reported using fMRI machines.The hesitance of neuromarketing firms to embrace fMRI comes from a few main factors: First, marketers have been sceptical as to whether fMRI is able to generate insights that are more useful than those offered by less expensive alternatives such as EEG and eye tracking. It also must be performed in a lab and requires a great deal of expertise to understand how to operate the machinery and interpret the results.

However, with the increasing availability of AI-powered solutions, Neuromarketing is gaining popularity again as it can be more easily integrated in to the time-constrained workflows of busy marketers and advertisers.

What does the future of Neuromarketing look like?

Neuromarketing remains a valuable and scientifically reliable way of answering important questions for marketers and advertisers, and we expect that we will continue to see development and innovation in the Neuromarketing space. Particularly in the fields of AI and Machine Learning, combined with the growth of digital and performance marketing, we expect that future predictive models will be optimised based on real-world performance data. This might include a combination of technologies such as attention prediction and object recognition, paired with brand lift data or click-through metrics. This all means that the recommendations provided by Neuromarketing researchers and platforms can be better correlated and optimised to produce real-world results.