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How to optimise your marketing effectiveness with Neuroscience

By tapping into the science behind the human mind, marketers are gaining greater insight into how consumers respond to brands. Neuromarketing and neuroanalytics company, Neuro-Insight, is using the latest technology to assist marketers to target the deepest level of consumer decision-making – the subconscious – and affect greater brand buy-in.

Here’s something to blow your mind: The human brain is more complex than any other known structure in the universe. A mysterious maze of intricate workings that brings to life every aspect of our shared humanity. It’s an organ that’s so complicated we can hardly harness its full potential – at times not fully understanding why we act or behave in a certain way.

The scientific community suggests that people make around 35,000 decisions each day – over 90% of these at a subconscious level. Decisions we don’t even realise we are making. So, when it comes to affecting a person’s decision-making process, the task of moving the mind is not simple and requires an approach that dives deep into a person’s memory etching messages at a subconscious level.

How then does one know what will and won’t positively affect a person’s memory? Conspiracy theorist and author David Icke famously wrote, “[h]ave you ever wondered what your subconscious mind looks like? Well today, I can show you.” While he may not have been talking about neuroscience – the scientific study of the nervous system – the discipline is now being used to tap into the subconscious and research the effectiveness of advertising in building positive brand memory.

What is consumer neuroscience

At its core, marketing is about the subtle art of persuasion. As a marketer, you’re constantly devising new strategies to influence consumers to act in a brand-positive way. To do that well, you need to understand your customer and what drives them and their experience with your brand.

By tapping into the consumer subconscious, professor Byron Sharp, author of How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don’t Know says that marketers are able build and refresh consumer memory structures in relation to their brand. He adds that it’s essential that the consumer remembers the advertising in order for the brand to be noticed or come to mind in a buying situation.

Despite the fact that the majority of decision-making takes place in the subconscious, most of the tools that the industry uses to measure the effectiveness of marketing strategies rely on the conscious mind. However, advancements in technology and pressure on marketers to (improve ROI &) understand consumer decision-making at a deeper level is driving a new strand in marketing effectiveness research – consumer neuroscience.

Neuroscience is increasingly playing an important role in brand strategy and design. This requires marketers to tap into their consumers’ subconscious and think more intuitively about consumer responses. Neuroscience techniques can provide information about implicit processes that are typically difficult to access using other consumer marketing effectiveness research.

“People don’t really know what effect an ad has had on them. But with consumer neuroscience research techniques we can now measure what’s happening in the subconscious so it’s an accurate assessment of how people are experiencing an ad and the likely impact it will have,” says Brian Hill, GM at Neuro-Insight.

With 40 years of  neuroscience experience behind him, founder and current board chair of Neuro-Insight , professor Richard Silberstein adds that neuroscience is able to help marketers understand how ad placements influence future behaviour – often in subtle ways. 

“People don’t remember every single experience they’ve ever had in their entire life. The brain knows what is important for you and then it stores it. Memory encoding has been validated to drive sales and behaviour change so it’s a very important measure in terms of determining effectiveness,” Silberstein says. 

How neuroscience can improve marketing effectiveness

Through neuroscience, Neuro-Insight helps brands understand consumers’ subconscious engagement and responses, which they can use to create stronger connections with their audiences. “The problem that Neuro-Insight exists to solve is to allow marketers to measure the otherwise unmeasurable. We think of this as moving forward from creative research to creative intelligence. The client can link what we find to sales and ROI,” says Hill.

Neuro-Insight uses its patented Steady State Topography to measure electrical activity in the brain. “We can sit groups of people in front of any  type of media ad and measure second-by-second whether they are feeling positive, negative, engaged, emotional – and most critically whether any parts of the ad have been stored in long term memory and how strongly it was stored,” explains Hill.

Hill says that memory encoding is the most crucial measure in the process because it has been proven that if advertising content is registered strongly in long term memory then it links to future behaviour such as buying a product.

This insight can be used to identify the iconic triggers throughout the duration of the ad; which are the powerful creative moments, which are encoded strongly into long term memory and which aren’t. “For example, these triggers can be identified from  a TV ad creative to then be featured across all media to improve the integration of a campaign and priming across different media.”

Neuro-Insight has worked with the likes of Coca Cola, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Unilever, Nestle and GSK to optimise ad campaigns so that they can better achieve this desired memory encoding outcome. A process Hill says aims to be as non-invasive to the creative process as possible. “The potential adjustments to the ad that we might suggest are usually very detailed and don’t change the story or flow of the ad but do have a major impact on how the brain engages with and remembers the ad,” says Hill.

In addition to this focus upon optimising ad creative, Neuro-Insight has also worked closely with media companies to better understand how the context of the consumption of an ad by media channel can have a major impact upon effectiveness and consumer outcomes.  

This article was produced in partnership with Neuro-Insight. For more details on how neuroscience can help you better market your brand or media sector, contact Brian Hill at bhill@neuro-insight.co.nz.