Understanding Neuromarketing in Social Video Commerce

In my earlier “Psychology of Online Video” article, I featured behavior science experts explaining how online video influences our shopping habits by setting off our brains and triggering consumer purchases.  Here I delve further into behavior studies with online video and explore the connection between “neuromarketing” and online video: and learn where brain science, marketing, online video, and eCommerce all meet!

What is neuromarketing?

The winner for today’s short answer goes to Fast Company: “Neuromarketing is the practice of using technology to measure brain activity. “

And now for the more introspective answer, requiring a just a little more brain activity…

According to Roger Dooley,  a long-time web marketing professional, author of the blog Neuromarketing and his upcoming book, Brainfluence, neuromarketing is any use of ‘brain science’ in marketing. In other words, it’s any use of our understanding of the brain – way deep into the actual physiology of the brain – for improving our marketing.

“Neuromarketing covers the intersection of neuroscience and behavior research with marketing, advertising, and product design. “ says Roger. “By understanding neuromarketing, we find insights into human behavior that let marketers refine their message and strengthen their appeal to consumers… Done right, neuromarketing is both a technical and practical way for marketers to better reach consumers.

Here’s a video featuring Roger explaining neuromarketing.


How neuromarketing works

Roger explained that neuromarketing works by using brain scanning technology to identify quirks and unconscious preferences in test subjects – first by observation of behavior and then, in some cases, by using brain scan data. “Often, the brain scans simply confirm what we already knew, although they may give more insight by identifying specific brain structures involved, etc.” says Roger. “

Here’s a video on the ABC Entertainment Channel with what appears to be advertising experts offering their own analysis on some neuromarketing done with recent Birdseye ads. (And where else are you going to see 4 ad people with their own laugh track?)


Neuromarketing with online video: How Online Video Triggers Emotional Responses in our Brains

Roger says that neuromarketers readily acknowledge the heightened physiological effect that engaging with an online video can have with test subjects and audiences in general. “Originally, web content was text. Then, the use of images created more user engagement. Video goes one step farther, and, by incorporating motion and sound, has the potential to captivate users to a much higher degree.” He says.

I asked Roger, does he see a connection between neuromarketing and online video? Here was his response:

“Big budget films are using neuromarketing techniques both to optimize promotional content as well as, in some cases, tweak the entertainment content itself. There has been some work done on viral videos, a topic highly relevant to online video producers. However, no magic formula has been discovered so far.”

On an obvious note, Roger also shared with me the vast majority of online video today is produced, published, and distributed without any neuromarketing assistance.

What’s involved with neuromarketing tests?

While neuromarketing is both a technical and practical way for marketers to better reach consumers, is it practical on the budget for most businesses? So I asked Roger, what is usually involved with setting up a research test for neuromarketing? How much can it cost? Is this something available for SMEs (small to medium enterprises)? Have there been any studies showing the cost-to-benefit of a neuromarketing test or tests?

“Like any form of market research, you must first decide what questions you are trying to answer.” says Roger. “Most commonly, one associates commercial neuromarketing studies with evaluating the appeal of different versions of ads, packages, product designs, etcetera. Typically, one would be more likely to be able to determine which of two versions of an ad was more engaging, vs. answering a nebulous, open-ended question like, ‘What do my customers really want?’”

“The cost [with a neuromarketing test] depends on vendor, the technology being used, the sample size, the number of variations in what is being evaluated, specialized setups (e.g., real or simulated supermarket environments), etc. The numbers I hear thrown around the industry for EEG studies (which may or may not include eye-tracking and biometrics) start at $25 -$50K and can run significantly more. 

I’m not aware of any cost/benefit or ROI numbers. The more that will be spent on a campaign, the easier it is to justify putting some money into neuromarketing research. SMBs may find the cost high if their ad budget is modest. SMBs might put limited neuromarketing funds to best use to evaluate more permanent assets, like product design and packaging. Those change less frequently than TV or print ads, and the cost of a study could be amortized over more time.”

Stay tuned for more tomorrow…

I will be covering the connection with a relatively new social science — behavior economics — and online video. I will also be featuring excerpts from Professor Dan Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational, and some tips on what online video marketers and eCommerce specialists can gather from it.