By Robin Gurney @ TIPTOP INSIGHTS Image source: Buyer Brain Ltd.

In previous articles we have seen why neuromarketing is so important, the various technologies used and a special focus on implicit reaction tools as well. Now we look to the future and share the opinions and visions of leading neuromarketing hardware, software and service providers.

“Consumer neuroscience’s much-improved diagnostics capabilities are rapidly making it an essential part of the creative process. Does it mean that we have all the answers now? Of course not. Human beings are complex. No single technology has a monopoly on the truth.”

Nikki Westoby, Director of Neuroscience at Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience.

As the largest market research company in the world Nielsen’s future direction is one to watch carefully, “Neuroscience tools need to be fine-tuned to capture consumers’ reactions when they’re on-the-go or being distracted. In the coming years, a more comprehensive theoretical understanding of media consumption will emerge, and we will roll out new measurement tools and techniques to address new marketing challenges.

We’re pioneering noise-reduction techniques in the data processing of the signals, to reduce the time it takes to analyse the brain signals and get insights back to our clients. And of course we’re keeping up to date with the latest tools and methodologies available and pilot-testing them. And if one looks like it’s robust, reliable and adds to our understanding of consumer response, we’ll add it to the toolkit.” Nikki @ Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience

Manuel Garcia-Garcia, lead neuroscientist IPSOS, confirms their holistic/360 view, “The future is the Total Understand of the Consumer, far from the dichotomy of the conscious and nonconscious. A look into the future is understanding the human cognition and behavior as a whole, leveraging all the research resources that are available to us from ethnography, behavioral observation, quantitative and qualitative research to nonconscious measurement tools. The future is being capable of integrating data of different nature for the Total Understanding of the Consumer.”

Neuromarketing service providers often form alliances to fill the service gaps, using common technologies from companies like Shimmer, BitBrain, iMotions, Tobii Pro etc. Combining neuromarketing with traditional market research methods and also other disciplines such as behavioural science, will lead ultimately to a powerful, holistic view of consumer decision making.

For example, PromoSapiens, a Croatian agency lead by behavioural marketing specialist, Dalibor Šumiga, use EEG, eye tracking (screen based and glasses), GSR, facial coding, implicit testing software for testing TV ads, packaging design (real environment and planograms), product usage, brand values on a non-conscious level and UX (web & app design).They combine this with behavioral analysis online based on the behavioral economics principal (based on the work of Dr. Thaler).

Dalibor believes, “Neuromarketing can become a mainstream service – with more automation, better standardization of the methodologies, more accurate sensors and hopefully, with less sensationalism, less theoretical discussions and more practical knowledge.”

I think Dalibor has hit a nail on the head when addressing the theory v practical issue. The time has come for more persuasion scientists to communicate the practical benefits to marketers in plain English and I’d like to see more transparency of results too. In the neuromarketing insights knowledgebase there are numerous neuromarketing case studies of leading brands but I’d like to see a lot more.

Regarding the future of facial coding, Dan Hill Speaker, Author & President of Sensory Logic, Inc. has his finger on the pulse, “What’s already happening is monumental enough. You’ve got West Point cadets being monitored 24/7 for emotional intelligence, character, ability to handle stress using automated facial coding. You’ve got a billion-dollar Chinese “start-up” backed by the Chinese government, which is using the tool for all sorts of unsavory surveillance of the populace in emotional terms, trying to detect feelings of resentment/rebellion – of notable use in the rebellious northwest (Arabic) part of the country. The tool will be used for good purposes, too, ideally: connecting better with customers.”

Geoffrey Gill, President of Shimmer U.S., a leading wearable device manufacturer headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, talks about the way their flagship product, the NeuroLynQ platform is going, “We are adding an analysis module that adds new analytics like z-scoring and makes analyzing by segment seamless and easy. Longer term, Shimmer is developing technology that will enable remote monitoring of large panels of people 24×7”

Paul Conner (who possibly has the best job title of anyone I know in the industry – Chief Emotive Officer  [CEO]) mentions some of the exciting new developments at Emotive Analytics,“In neurophysiology, different and potentially more reliable bodily reactions tied to dimensional and primary emotions are coming e.g., thermal measurement in the face (vs. muscle movement). In terms of implicit measurement, we’re working on tying multiple types of attributes together in “path to purchase” fashion (e.g., features > emotions > behavior paths) using structural equation modeling. In addition, most “outcome measures” (such as dependent measures like purchase interest) in implicit studies are explicit in nature, which minimizes the impact of implicit reactions to marketing stimuli. We are working on creating implicit dependent measures, too.”

Bitbrain Technologies develops hardware, software and signal decoding for several applications such as scientific research, health or neuromarketing. Maria Lopez, CEO, give a snapshot view of how EEG and VR will combine, “Minimal EEG Immersive: Wearable dry-EEG device seamless integrated with VR (HTC Vibe Pro and Oculus). Its sensors are located in central brain areas for cognitive and sensory-motor states. This innovative and new technology captures the natural human behaviour to evaluate user experiences (video games, cinema, TV shows,…). Patrizia Cherubino, Head of Neuromarketing Research at BrainSigns, echos the thought, “Surely, ever more wearable, accurate and reliable devices, will facilitate in a really next future the adoption of neuromarketing studies.”

Buyer Brain’s latest addition to their solution portfolio is the People Engagement Solution, which delivers personalized employee engagement strategies that rely on accurate, deep and unbiased insights collected by using cutting-edge neuroscience tools. “This solution integrates an effort measurement module that examines each organisational process and procedure, and accurately pinpoints those that are detracting or enabling employees’ experiences, determining the exact level of impact on their overall engagement.” Ana Iorga, CEO and Chief Neuroscientist.

Tobii Pro aims to make quality eye tracking ever more accessible as Ali Farokhian, Head of Tobii Pro Insight explains, “We want it to be easy to collect attention data in natural environments, in context (eg. at home) and in virtual reality. We see more and more understanding the benefits of using VR to improve the customer experience and to test concepts, product and designs before going into actual production or launching of a new product.”

Andy Dean CEO at System1insights believes neuro methods will continue to grow in importance at a pure marketing and advertising level, but will become more mainstream across business areas focused at employment, recruitment, talent management and leadership as understanding of how the brain actually functions comes out of the lab and into the boardroom and beyond, to politics. He states, “… often the balance of an election is decided by the conscious ‘don’t knows’, an IRT can bypass this and uncover the nonconscious associations an individual may have and actually fill in the ‘don’t know’ gap, giving a more accurate indication of the potential winners and losers . IRTs can also identify what hidden feelings a person may have toward an individual politician and allow an accurate and insightful profile drawn up of the voters’ association with a politician in important areas such as trust and credibility.”

Maxwell Wiggins at LAB believes the growth of virtual reality will enable neuromarketers to better understand the unconscious mind of the in-store shopper. Following this, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIR) may make its way into the neuromarketing sphere. Unlike its ‘big brother’ functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), fNIR offers a portable, ecological solution for measuring blood flow within the prefrontal cortex – a crucial region for understanding everyday decision making.”

For a closer look at the potential of fNIR this research is a good starting point.

Mike Stevens, founder at Insightplatforms.com, identifies three important areas of development as we enter a second wave of maturity with machine learning platforms for neuro research:

“Combination models: In the first wave, we had tools that were effectively saying ‘the old way of understanding people is dead; our way now reveals the true insights’.

But those single-method or single-model technologies could never explain everything. In this second wave, we’re seeing platforms that are better at integrating multiple models to triangulate the insight and make better predictions. iMotions has always championed this approach with their platform; Crowd Emotion pulls together robust facial coding, eye tracking and implicit testing to generate a composite model of engagement with video; inVibe combines Speech Emotion Recognition (vocal intonation analytics) with NLP models to decode sentiment from healthcare conversations.

Commercial integration: These technologies are being embedded in workflows and technologies to deliver on-going commercial impact. Beyond Verbal, for example, is embedded in call centres to help monitor staff performance and customer stress levels, with automatic triggers for escalation of problem cases. Eye-tracking specialist Lumen has modelled the impact of true engagement with online ads, and is integrating its technology with the programmatic media ecosystem to help publishers premiumise inventory.

  1. Increasing accessibility: New players are finding ways to reduce the cost of running neuro and biometric research projects. CoolTool’s online platform can integrate eye tracking, emotion measurement, brain activity (EEG), implicit tests and mouse tracking into standard online surveys. Mindprober’s panel of biometrically equipped participants can provide rapid feedback – including in-the-moment responses to live sporting broadcasts such as Formula 1 races.”

Lindsay Zaltman, CEO at Olson Zaltman agrees with the importance of VR and AI in the future and from a general industry perspective, he sees a pendulum swing coming soon. Lindsay states, “Right now, the marketing research world is enamored with data, data and more data. And it better be fast. This can be big data, real-time data, or anything else. What is missing is the human or emotional understanding of consumers. I’m already seeing the insights clients are working with lack truly deep truths to them. Instead, they are making decisions based off of very surface level understandings of their customers. The large amount of data they have at their fingertips gives them a false sense of understanding. They are starting to realize this, I believe, and we will start to see a move back to the middle where time and resources are built into really understanding – qualitatively – what makes consumers tick.”

Christophe Morin,CEO, Chief Persuasion Scientist at SalesBrain and author of the recent Persuasion Code predicts the possibility of using technology which fully embeds analytics informed by a good neuroscientific theory of media effect but he also sounds a word of caution, “Based on nearly 20 years of research and teaching experience in the fields of media neuroscience and neuromarketing, I believe that the future of neuromarketing technology is to provide better neurological analytics to lower complexity, reduce post-processing time of a large amount of data, and more importantly provide credible and transparent interpretation of the data. Collecting neurophysiological data is easier and cheaper than ever. But studies suffer from the lack of theoretical frameworks. Technology is not useful unless it can measure what it says it measures. Too many neuromarketing providers lack solid and proven models to answer critical research questions that cannot be addressed by traditional research methods.”

As ever, caveat emptor.

If you would like to reach out to the companies mentioned in this article you can find their contact details in the neuromarketing company directory.

Robin hand picks and shares neuromarketing related insights and recommendations at www.neuromarketingtips.eu and in his Brainy Business Matters Newsletter


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