Mindshare’s New In-House Lab Uses Brain Activity to Evaluate Ad Effectiveness

Initial research suggests consumers prefer audio over visual stories

Mindshare's NeuroLab uses medical technology to assess consumer reactions to advertising.
Mindshare

The New York office of Mindshare US has recently instituted an internal lab that uses neurological data to measure consumer responses to advertising.

Called NeuroLab, the unit uses brain activity detected from electroencephalograms (EEGS) and galvanic skin response technology (which measures changes in sweat gland activity) to get a deeper sense of how advertising resonates with people. This data will be supplemented with implicit bias testing and quantitative survey responses.

According to Joe Maceda, chief instigation officer at Mindshare US, NeuroLab will help the media company inform strategies and tactics for plans going to market. It will also be used to conduct general research to help elevate the work of the agency at large.

“For example, we recently used it to test which type of environments and content genres were best suited for a brand’s message, which will inform our placement selections,” he said. “Or, for another example, we have a series of audio and sonic branding workshops for clients—we’re going to be using NeuroLab to help inform what those audio strategies should be.”

The lab, which is being co-led by Mindshare’s Arafel Buzan and James Kelly, has already come out with some preliminary research on audio advertising. Recently, 22% of NeuroLab participants surveyed said that they preferred the same brand story told visually versus audibly; however, their “non-conscious neurological responses told a different story.” According to the research, brand stories told just audibly elicited an average 21% higher emotional intensity than ones that were viewed visually.

Additionally, implicit bias testing showed that brand stories told just audibly elicited three times more positive brand associations than brand stories told just visually—though not as much as combined audio/visual stories.

“Sound and the human experience are intimately and neurologically linked. It’s the first language we learn, and from infancy is processed faster and with greater emotional prioritization than any of our other senses,” said Buzan in a statement. “But the longstanding rule in creative, that storytelling requires sight, sound, and motion, has also insisted that sight is the most important part of that equation. So while over the years marketers have made the choices to buy visual-only mediums, the industry has largely devalued the potential of sound existing on its own for storytelling.”

Mindshare said that the next phase of its analysis will focus on specific brand nuances and categories across beauty, retail, travel and luxury.