Those of us in the web marketing and search arena both love and fear Google. Google, directly or indirectly, makes us money and can send our sites millions of visitors; on the other hand, Google knows a LOT about us. Their Toolbar, Analytics, Adsense, Gmail, and, of course, Search are all happily gathering petabytes of data about our behavior. Now, Google is employing neuromarketing technology to peer inside our brains:

In a study released Thursday, Google and MediaVest used NeuroFocus findings to show that overlay ads appearing in YouTube videos grab consumers’ attention and boost brand awareness…

To that end, the NeuroFocus research conducted in May looked at the reactions of 40 people to YouTube InVideo overlay and companion banner ads from a cross-section of MediaVest advertising clients…

The study revealed that viewers found overlays “compelling and engaging,” generating high attention and emotional engagement levels across different brands and types of video. On a one to 10 scale, the ads scored a 6.6 in effectiveness, which is considered showing “a high effect.” [From Online Media Daily - Google: This Is Your Brain On Advertising by Mark Walsh.]

Having a high profile, tech savvy firm like Google not only sponsor a neuromarketing study but trumpet the results to the public is indeed a good thing for both Neurofocus and the industry. As is common with so many neuromarketing studies, this one didn’t actually tie ad viewing to eventual consumer behavior, but focused on the emotional activation caused by the ad. That’s not all bad, though – just showing that these overlay ads are processed by the brain is good news for Google and others promoting them as a viable advertising strategy.

Over at WebProNews, Jason Lee Miller finds the combination of brain research and marketing “disturbing,” but points out that the research does show that just counting clicks is a poor measure of the effectiveness of advertising. Garrett Rogers at ZDNet notes, “The research presented definitely makes InVideo overlay ads look like a compelling option for advertisers. It will be interesting to see how long it takes before it really catches on.”

Cheers to Google for thinking outside the box and using neuromarketing to prove the effectiveness of new and perhaps less intrusive ways to deliver ads.

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