Neuro-marketing offers new take on ad campaign

Researchers are using state-of-the-art neuro-marketing equipment to assess the effectiveness of advertising

Researchers are using state-of-the-art neuro-marketing equipment to assess the effectiveness of advertising aimed at increasing physical activity in women.

“We know that physical activity is important to overall health and wellbeing. We also know that women are less active than men,” explains lead researcher, Dr Rachel Fuller.

“Global averages indicate that around 31% of women are insufficiently active compared to 23% of men.  In Australia, only 41% of women over 18 meet the public health guidelines for physical activity, compared to 50% of Australian men.”

And while advertising may help to encourage Australian women to exercise, more research is needed to determine exactly how effective these campaigns are.

Dr Fuller and her team are working to answer this question by using traditional survey methods and the La Trobe Business School’s neuro-marketing equipment.

Using wireless electroencephalogram (EEG) – equipment that records electrical activity in the brain using electrodes attached to the scalp – along with eye-tracking software, Fuller is evaluating the effectiveness of a women-specific advertisement aimed at increasing physical activity.

“Specifically, we looked at a participant’s level of engagement in the advertisement,” explains Fuller.  “The eye-tracking software allows us to see what participants are looking when they experience the highest or lowest levels of engagement.”

Fuller notes that combining both technologies with a survey offers a highly robust evaluation of advertising effectiveness.

“The combination allows us to understand ‘why’ advertisements are effective or ineffective,” she explains. “Previously we’ve been able to evaluate ‘whether,’ but the neuro-marketing tools allow us to understand why.”

The research team found that the tested advertisement engaged younger inactive and somewhat active women the most, “a welcome finding given that these are women who need to increase their physical activity levels,” says Fuller.

They also found that already active women didn’t need to be asengaged in the advert to prompt positive changes in behaviour. “The advertisement was able to nudge already active women to become ‘ambassadors’ of physical activity and recommend physical activity to their friends and family at much lower levels of engagement, which was a really useful finding.”

Fuller notes that her research highlights the “benefits of using use of neuro-marketing tools like EEG and eye-tracking to pre-test advertisements before launch.”

“This approach will allow us to develop more effective advertisements in the future.”

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