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Science in the Center: A Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience Update

New technology and devices are changing consumer behavior at a more rapid rate than ever before—and this evolution calls for new measurements that match the pace of today’s digital age. At Nielsen, one way we’re keeping up with today’s speed of change is with scientific tools that allow us to measure at an emotional and nonconscious level.

On Oct. 28, 2015, Nielsen hosted a thought leadership panel called Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience Update: An Increasingly Integrated Industry Outlook through the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) in New York, which included leaders from Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience—including Joe Willke, president, Dr. Carl Marci, chief neuroscientist and executive vice president, and Dr. Michael Smith, vice president—along with Mark Loughney, vice president of research at Turner, and Patty Goldman, vice president, research director, The Ad Council. The panel was the first official update on the changing consumer neuroscience industry and how Nielsen’s acquisition of Innerscope is advancing measurement.

It was also the first time we shared our new integrated video ad test solution with an external audience. This game-changing solution will combine EEG, biometrics, eye tracking and facial coding and will integrate these measures with self-reported data. This is the first time that this set of tools has ever been combined by a single company, providing unprecedented diagnostic richness and a progressive paradigm for the industry.

“The bar to engage all audiences is higher than ever, with an unprecedented amount of distractions as platforms and content proliferate. Research suggests shorter attention and reduced memory in our digital lives. Emotion is so complicated that we have several tools to go after it. You need multiple tools to measure for a really comprehensive look,” said Marci.

“Science is the center of everything that we do,” said Willke. “We have 20 PhD- or MD-level neuroscientists, who collectively share 300-plus years of experience and 55-plus peer-reviewed publications, and over 50 patents granted to date. We also have an advisory board of renowned neuroscientists from leading institutions around the world and have made a large investment to build out the global footprint of our labs.”

Emerging studies integrating neuroscience results with in-market data are yielding new evidence for the validity of using neuroscience-based observations to predict marketplace outcomes. “The benefits of analyzing the nonconscious? The industry can build brands through emotion—by taking a sophisticated definition of emotion—and providing granular diagnostics ensures timely and effective decision making,” said Marci.

A recent study conducted with The Ad Council to evaluate a PSA on fatherhood showcased the benefits of the rich data that result from the combination of neuroscience tools. Various neuroscience tools were applied to the evaluation of the ad, and each tool (EEG, biometrics, facial coding and eye tracking) provided unique, complementary insights into understanding consumers’ reactions. Together, they provided a more holistic picture of consumer response—with actionable insights that would allow creative teams to edit the ad for an execution that would resonates more strongly in market.

And The Ad Council has found this data highly useful. “We work with nonprofits and government agencies with limited budgets, and the recommendations from Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience have been extremely valuable,” said Goldman. “The results have been so apparent, with all of these emotional measures converging when you see people’s brain responses in the ad. We’ve had great acceptance of these methods by our partner ad agencies, because the findings are so clear.”

Neuroscience has also provided useful information for TV programmers. Loughney from Turner commented, “An interesting finding is if you watch TV alone without a second screen, there is less engagement with the commercial breaks than when you watch with a second screen, which is a really surprising result. We found this insight through the physical neurological measures of engagement, not through anyone telling us a response through a survey.”

Watch the full presentation for more information.