NeuroMarketing was new to me when I got a call from Alex Freedman of CBC Television. He had read about it in an article in Macleans on May 20, 2005 by Katherine Macklem entitled, Does the use of brain scans take advertising too far? A quote from the article will give you the idea:
Some advertising executives are forging a new, controversial field of marketing research using brain scans. Called neuromarketing, it studies the impact on the brain of advertising and branding efforts. The research holds out the promise — seductive to marketers; sinister, potentially, to consumers — of providing scientifically sound answers about what might prompt people to spend their money. Using functional MRI scans, researchers are looking for the holy grail of the advertising industry.
It rang some bells for me. One of my early jobs was in Advertising Research with J. Walter Thompson in London. I was hired to try to determine the effectiveness of advertising using mathematical methods. As the old saying goes, half of any advertising budget is wasted: the problem is which half. I’m afraid they were no more enlightened when I left.
It seemed that I could usefully contribute to the discussion and the item appeared on the CBC on Wednesday June 1st. My early experience in Advertising Research was certainly relevant to the content of the item. However afterwards, I had one of those moments where you say to yourself, “Oh, if only I’d thought of that …“
Thinking further, the contrast between NeuroMarketing and Internet Marketing is very striking. NeuroMarketing is akin to other techniques that have been used over the decades in traditional media advertising. Questions are raised because it is intrusive. Electrodes are attached to people’s skin, and so on. However it’s the price to be paid if you’re going to try to understand how traditional media advertising works.
With Internet Marketing, there are no such obvious concerns. As people respond to promotional messages on their computers, their PDAs or their cell phones, they leave digital footprints wherever they go. There are several reasons why the total promotional budget is gradually shifting more towards Internet Marketing and away from traditional media advertising. A bonus is that, with a little effort, it’s now very easy to figure out which part of your promotional budget is giving you the most bang for your buck.