Careful – big brands are watching (and our shopper marketing agency thinks that’s a good thing).

Major consumer brands have been using various neuromarketing techniques for years, but most have been reluctant to talk about that activity. The idea of measuring a consumer’s subconscious preferences has always felt a bit Orwellian, but companies are now coming clean in their efforts to go beyond the (often) glib responses of qualitative research to gain a better understanding of what’s really going in our minds when we interact with brands and their advertising.

According to Millward Brown, a global agency specializing in brand and consumer research, this year’s commitment from Unilever and Coca-Cola represents the largest-scale adoption of facial coding technology in the industry to date.

The facial platform uses proprietary software to interpret viewers’ facial expressions to gauge how viewers feel about the ads they see. “Facial analysis adds depth to our understanding and builds on our validated metrics to delivery new insights in an easily applied and cost-effective way,” Graham Page, head of Millward’s neuroscience practice said.

Millward, which says it’s used the facial analysis on over 400 advertising research projects, expects to see great growth in the use of this technology this year.

Millward doesn’t only use the facial analysis to gauge effectiveness – results are also compared with survey responses to help marketers better craft and target campaigns.

Besides targeting ads, shopper marketing agencies are also looking to get their hands on facial recognition technology built into TVs to monitor television ratings and get a sense of how many people are watching ads at any particular time, as well as how they are emotionally responsive to them.

While the technologies used in these projects don’t involve actual measurements of brain waves or activity, the commitment of major brands to the importance of measuring subconscious preferences is significant for the neuromarketing business as a whole – and a trend our Charlotte marketing agency is closely watching.

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