-Google Measuring Brain Waves.

Posted: November 12, 2008 in 2008, Articles
Tags: , ,


But the company has been experimenting with YouTube ads by reading brain waves to see how people respond to them. Garett Rogers sat in on a webcast hosted by Google’s Leah Spalding and MediaVest’s Yaakov Kimelfield.

Spalding and Kimelfield revealed the results of a study that employed “neuromarketing” (we’ll get to that in a minute) firm NeuroFocus “to measure the impact of YouTube overlay advertisements on attention levels, emotional engagement, and other psychological metrics.”

They decided YouTube overlay ads were effectively compelling and improved positive brand response. Why is Google, previously primarily focused on click-through rates, so interested in brain waves suddenly? Spalding says it’s about how memorable an ad is and its impact, and how important it is to “look beyond” the click through.    …


Those of us in the web marketing and search arena both love and fear Google. Google, directly or indirectly, makes us money and can send our sites millions of visitors; on the other hand, Google knows a LOT about us. Their Toolbar, Analytics, Adsense, Gmail, and, of course, Search are all happily gathering petabytes of data about our behavior. Now, Google is employing neuromarketing technology to peer inside our brains: …

Having a high profile, tech savvy firm like Google not only sponsor a neuromarketing study but trumpet the results to the public is indeed a good thing for both Neurofocus and the industry. As is common with so many neuromarketing studies, this one didn’t actually tie ad viewing to eventual consumer behavior, but focused on the emotional activation caused by the ad. That’s not all bad, though – just showing that these overlay ads are processed by the brain is good news for Google and others promoting them as a viable advertising strategy.      …


The firm used biometric measures such as brainwave activity, eye-tracking and skin response to gauge the impact of ads. Based on criteria including attention level, emotional engagement and memory retention, it then comes up with an overall “effectiveness” score for ads.

The study revealed that viewers found overlays “compelling and engaging,” generating high attention and emotional engagement levels across different brands and types of video. On a one to 10 scale, the ads scored a 6.6 in effectiveness, which is considered showing “a high effect.”

The combination of overlays with companion banners also grabbed users’ attention more than banner ads alone, scoring a 6.6 compared to a 6.3 for just banners. The overlay-display combo was also found to improve brand response over banners alone, based on study participants’ brainwave activity.

Yaakov Kimelfeld, MediaVest senior vice president for digital research and analytics at MediaVest, said the study “will be instrumental in showing that overlays actually work.” While advertisers may still be more comfortable with pre-rolls, which approximate TV commercials, Kimelfeld noted that “the interruption model is going away, even on TV.”


Google, with the help of NeuroFocus, used a sample group of participants, and measured things likes skin responses, eye movement and an EEG brain scan. EEG is a more portable and convenient, but slightly less accurate way to measure alpha and beta waves in the brain compared other common methods that require you to be laying horizontal in a machine. …

Click through was important.. but since we’re looking at brand impact, it’s not enough to just look at the click through rate (CTR). CTR will not give us any indication as far as how memorable an ad is, or metrics on brand impact, etc. For these reasons it’s important to include and consider CTR but to look beyond that. — Leah Spalding, Google


NeuroFocus solves the 3 classic conundrums of advertising – What specific components of the ad do people pay attention to? Where exactly in the ad are they emotionally engaged, and why? Finally, and most importantly what specific components of the ad do they retain in long term memory. Clear answers to these questions enables you the advertiser to get at the core of what makes your ads effective.

Neuroscience provides a deep, clear view into the real-world, real-time reactions of consumers at the most elemental level: their brainwaves.

We capture that communication…measure it…analyze it…understand it like never before.

Applying our patented technology and proprietary techniques, NeuroFocus puts those cutting edge findings to work helping to improve the effectiveness of every aspect of our clients’ product and brand development, or program content through to the full spectrum of their marketing communications campaigns and materials.

The human brain reacts to stimuli in milliseconds. NeuroFocus captures these reactions thousands of times every second.

Our sophisticated methodologies measure:

  • Attention
  • Emotional Engagement
  • Memory Retention

From those we derive gauges of:

  • Persuasion,
  • Awareness
  • Novelty
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