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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hidden Persuasion or Junk Science?

I have followed the broad topic of what has come to be called Neuromarketing for some time. Columnist Mya Frazier writes an overview piece about it in AdAge:
"Hidden Persuasion or Junk Science?
Fifty Years After the Publication of Vance Packard's Classic, Mya Frazier Asks Whether 'Neuromarketing' Plays a Real Role in Today's Ad Business .... "
As you might expect, this very new technology draws lots of deserved skepticism. There is little robustness in how it has been used to date. Some of its practitioners have little track record. Yet I don't think we can dismiss it without much more study. Frazier is not conclusive.

I read Vance Packard's related 1957 book Hidden Persuaders in high school, long before being exposed to the business of commercial advertising. I was intrigued and started to look for messages in ads and on the shelf. Much of the specifics of that book have been debunked. Yet we know that there is much afoot in our brains that we do not consciously direct, so subliminal may yet become important to the field. At the right an advertising image of a scotch glass, which Packard saw as containing a subliminal message.


Neuromarketing said...

While the possibility of subliminal marketing is quite real (see Subliminal Messages Work!), most of today's neuromarketing emphasis is simply on evaluating ads. It's generally accepted that customer self-reporting of like/dislike and purchase intention isn't accurate, and many believe recording brain activity can produce better results.

Personally, I'd like to see the technology used more for product improvement, i.e., finding out which features and designs are most pleasing to customers.


Franz Dill said...

Thanks for the pointer to the neuromarketing blog, will pass it along. Still not sure I agree it's that close to practical today ... but its worth a close look.