ARF NeuroStandards Report

Advertising Research FoundationA draft version of the product of the NeuroStandards effort by the Advertising Research Foundation is now circulating, and, unsurprisingly, it contains no standards. It does, however, sound an optimistic note for the field of neuromarketing:

While the ARF did not conclude that researchers should abandon traditional measures, we did conclude that it would be competitive folly for advertisers to defer learning about neuromarketing research “until things in neuromarketing settle down a bit.” The payoff from great advertising is simply too big, and the potential contribution that neuromarketing could make to great advertising is too significant.

Even without tests of statistical significance and with key debates unresolved, advertisers should not be afraid to use neuromarketing measures qualitatively, especially early in the creative process, to identify opportunities and pitfalls in
storylines, messaging, and key branding moments. Conducting studies that combine neuromarketing with deep qualitative interviews will only augment the rewards. Does this kind of research provide definitive answers with known error ranges? Not yet. Can it provide deep, useful understanding– not available through traditional techniques– of the otherwise elusive world of consumer emotion? Absolutely! [Emphasis added.]

This report continues the rather vague statements of the past, in which ARF suggested that the multiple technologies employed by the participating neuromarketing firms offered the promise of better market research. ARF findings tend to be documents that are designed to offend nobody, particularly the companies that participate in their projects, and hence don’t provide much useful guidance. Perhaps at some point ARF will come out with a hard-hitting report that says, “The services offered by our sponsor Company X are pure voodoo, their results are unrepeatable, and their recommendations unwarranted,” but I’m not holding my breath.

If you want to read the whole draft, you can find it here.

If there’s a bright spot in this effort it’s the overall optimism about neuromarketing in general. The enthusiastic language of the report may well remove some of the stigma associated with the field in conventional market research circles and encourage marketers who have been holding out to at least test neuromarketing studies. And, it appears, the ARF hopes to conduct a follow-on project, NeuroStandards 2.0.

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Roger Dooley writes and speaks about marketing, and in particular the use of neuroscience and behavioral research to make advertising, marketing, and products better. He is the primary author at Neuromarketing, and founder of Dooley Direct LLC, a marketing consultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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