Time Warner Medialab

"Really, this won't hurt a bit!"


Time Warner Inc. is opening their new “Medialab” at its New York City headquarters. The media giant expects to “generate valuable insights into consumer behavior, evolving media habits and industry trends across all of Time Warner’s businesses, brands and advertising partners.”

The lab sounds like one of the more diverse facilities dedicated to this kind of work, and contains a number of “real world” environments to provide realistic testing venues. It includes a 50-seat theater, a home-like living room, a consumer retail area and checkout station (no word on whether they’ll make this ultrarealistic by including a phony shopper ahead of you sorting through dozens of coupons and at least one unpriced item), an eye-tracking station and gaming stations. The behavior of subjects can be observed both by local and remote researchers.

Time Warner is partnering with consumer research firm Ipsos MediaCT and neuromarketing specialist Innerscope Research. Innerscope uses biometric measures to gauge consumer response to ads and media. Read more.

The New York Times covered the lab’s opening, noting that applications go beyond ads and video programming:

In December, HBO used the facility to test new features for its HBO Go iPad app, specifically related to the hit fantasy series “Game of Thrones.” A moderator observed as a consumer scrolled through character guides and additional videos related to the second season, to have its premiere in April.

The research, said Alison Moore, HBO’s senior vice president for digital platforms, “helps us narrow our roadmap when we have multiple features to launch” and “helps us anticipate consumer reaction.”

Not everyone finds neuromarketing compelling. One hilarious take on the new lab comes from FishBowl NY:

Good luck to Time Warner getting natural reactions from people strapped into torture devices. “I so enjoyed reading that fake issue of People in the fake grocery store that I barely noticed the needles in my eyes!”

That bizarre idea was inadvertently aided by a press release photo that has a guy in a white coat holding what looks like a huge, pointy metal probe but which is likely a pair of ceremonial ribbon-cutting scissors.

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