Time Warner’s Media Lab Knows What You Like to Watch

Dodge’s ‘Farmer’ spot blew up Twitter, but Hyundai got your attention

Time Warner’s media lab got a chance to flex its brain on Super Sunday—along with Innerscope research, the neuromarketing nerve center brought in 40 people to its biometric lab and another 20 to a room specially outfitted for the occasion. The perks? Pizza, comfortable couches, and friends who like football.

“Everything’s meant to understand how people behave in as normal an environment as possible,” said Innerscope’s president, Brian Levine. “We were able to track 20 people as they ate pizza and hung out with their friends. And here we are a day later, and we get hundreds of millions of data points, and in the next couple of days we’re going to see some amazing things.”

For instance: Dodge Ram’s “Farmer” spot may have been the toast of Madison Avenue, but according to good old-fashioned data, Hyundai’s “Santa Fe” ad was the big winner on the leads front. After the Santa Fe spot aired, Hyundai saw a 738 percent and 1000 percent increase in traffic on auto websites Edmunds.com and AutoTrader.com, respectively, Levine said. (Even with an audience the size of the Super Bowl, on some level your ads are always about reaching the specific consumer who’s most likely to patronize your brand.)

“There are two main technologies we employ,” explains Levine. “There’s something that looks like a heart-rate monitor but it gets a lot more than a heart rate. It gets sweat levels, whether they’re leaning in, whether their heart is racing, and we have special algorithms that can tell us about engagement. And the other one is eye tracking, and we can tell how much attention they’re giving something.”

Levine says that the Super Bowl is “a different kind of environment,” in that you can assume that viewers won’t switch channels, so you can tell a story over the course of a minute or two minutes and build a storyline without fear of losing your audience.

“[With the Budweiser Clydesdale ad] we actually started out in a place where people weren’t that engaged in the beginning, but no one’s changing the channel on the Super Bowl,” he said. “By the end it was off the charts. You’d never have been able to reach that high if you hadn’t set up the story. One of the things that came out of the Super Bowl is that people do take time to tell the story—it’s not just high production values or people excited because of the game.”

And the Dodge farmer ad? Biometrics vote no. “It’s the things that actually hit them at some emotional level,” Levine said. “That Chrysler ad was really stark, it had this great voiceover, but it wasn’t nearly as engaging as the Santa Fe ad.”

How do they know? Watch the eye-tracking video below to see, and click here to see the same video with a biometric overlay.

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