How Neuromarketing Adds Value

Damian Pandolfo

Damian Pandolfo

Product Manager

Neuromarketing sounds like a daunting subject on the surface. However, in this blog, we will break down the topic of neuromarketing in easy steps that will demonstrate the basics principles and how they could add value to your organization. We will do this with the help of one of the founding fathers of neuromarketing: prof. dr. Ale Smidts from Rotterdam school of management of the Erasmus university. 


But what exactly is neuromarketing?

Neuromarketing measures the subconscious attention of people through brain activity. EEG & fMRI are the main methods used for this, each with specific advantages and disadvantages.

The EEG tests use a cap on the candidate's head to analyze the underlying electrical impulses of the brain during the processing of stimuli. The advantage of this method is the high frequency of measurement: each second, it measures the brain. Therefore it provides accurate data during exposure to dynamic stimuli, like a video.

fMRI provides a good insight into which particular brain area is activated, achieved through measuring the blood flow. However, the measurement frequency is lower than EEG. It can only take measures every 2 seconds, which makes it less suitable for dynamic content analysis.

Adding value

So what tangible insights can neuromarketing provide? For example, neuromarketing can explain the hidden dynamics of celebrity endorsements. It found that if a believable link between the celebrity and the endorsed product exists, the brain converts to a very engaged state. However, without a plausible link, the brain will completely ignore the stimuli. 

Case in point, the famous tennis player Roger Federer promotes his tennis shoes. This link between athlete and equipment is vigorous. Federer is one of the best tennis players of all time; hence we assume he would only use the best of the best shoes.

Additionally, neuromarketing can explain the science behind social endorsements. If the most important people around you are doing something different than you, it triggers an error response in the brain. Based on this, you start to adapt. Conformity is hard-wired into the brain, but the extent of it varies from person to person. Translating this knowledge into marketing shows why using social norms for campaigns can be a powerful tool to trigger that conformity. 

A fascinating example of utilizing social standards for brand endorsement is the ‘#ShareTheLoad’ campaign from Ariel in the Indian market. This campaign questions why household chores have always been a job for women, the original video from 2015 received millions of views, and sales and brand awareness skyrocketed.

The exact campaign is still active and effective nowadays. This year, a new installment was released; it racked up over 70 million views on YouTube. A case study on this campaign shows just how monumental the impact has been. It presents the incredible potential of a social endorsement campaign.

Predicting emotion

In marketing, we are interested in consumer experience, not only in arousal (the degree of interest) and valence (positive or negative response) but also in specific emotions such as happiness, sadness or fear. By using machine learning on the EEG-created data, it was possible to train a classifier. The classifier could then predict a candidate's emotion. 

Traditionally, we questioned people about how they felt after exposure to a stimulus, which proved difficult. Could you describe exactly how you felt after watching a commercial? Probably not. Fortunately, we can now obtain direct subconscious emotional data.


Measuring subconscious brain activity has proven crucial to the prediction of successful advertising. People are inadequate in analyzing all factors that impact their decision-making process.

Getting started yourself

So if you are interested in neuromarketing as a potential solution, how do you get started? Dr. Ale Smidts recommends you attain information on what it takes to conduct proper neuromarketing research. For example, through a practical course. With this understanding, you will become a well-informed buyer and can select a suitable vendor.

The market has matured over the recent years with more availability of high-quality vendors who provide full-scale neuromarketing solutions for clients. Additionally, you can dissect if a vendor has qualified employees. Someone with a Ph.D. in neuroscience should be present, while people with a background in marketing are also required.

Vendors who have this combination can deliver quality. A good example is Alpha.One, a neuroscientific research firm that offers optimization tools like EEG, fMRI, and eye tracking. It checks all the boxes, employing experienced neuroscientists with knowledgeable marketing individuals.

Taking it to the next level

The field of neuromarketing is booming, demonstrated by rapid progress. However, how can it be taken to an even higher level? According to Dr. Ale Smidts, it seems that the future challenge for neuromarketing is to provide better predictive and actionable triggers for stimuli that will lead to successful advertising. Currently, we know what brain activity we desire the most. But we lack information about what specific stimuli will trigger it reliably.

That is it for now. Want to know more about neuromarketing? Listen to the full podcast episode with Ale Smidts. You can also check out a fantastic book. 'Introduction to neuromarketing & consumer neuroscience' by Dr. Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy provides a solid introduction to the brain processes.

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