Neuromarketing at Microsoft


Biometric Headband

Video games and movies are one of the more interesting neuromarketing applications, in that the technology can be applied to not just advertising but the product itself. A new effort by Microsoft and Emsense carries that idea one step further by attempting to compare viewer engagement with advertising across multiple technology platforms, including Xbox LIVE and traditional television spots.

The Xbox LIVE campaigns consisted of interactive billboards that users could click through to a branded landing page where they could then interact with content and download videos. The traditional videos used in this study included a 30-second television spot for Hyundai and a 60-second in-theater spot for Kia Motors America.

The results showed more time spent, greater recall and higher levels of emotional and cognitive response in association with the Xbox LIVE ad campaigns than with the traditional video spots. The interactive capabilities of Xbox LIVE enabled an additional 238 seconds of engagement beyond the traditional video ad, which lead to increased unaided recall and brand awareness. For example, the Xbox LIVE ads delivered 90 percent unaided brand recall, compared with 78 percent unaided brand recall rates for the 60-second spot. In addition, the Xbox LIVE ads delivered higher levels of both cognitive and emotional responses.
[From press release – Microsoft and Mediabrands Unveil Groundbreaking Research.]

The study claims that Xbox LIVE ads engage viewer on both emotional and cognitive levels:

Xbox Engagement

While we aren’t shocked to learn that Microsoft’s ad medium outperformed the competition in their own study, that doesn’t mean the work is without merit. This is likely the first effort which applies both conventional and neuromarketing techniques to evaluate the effectiveness of advertising in very different media.

No EEGs or fMRIs were used in the study. Rather, a headband was worn by the subjects and their brain activity, breathing rate, head motion, heart rate, blink rate, and skin temperature, were recorded during exposure to the media.

The study is a joint effort of Microsoft and Mediabrands. Details can be read in the downloadable white paper, Cracking the Code on Cross-Media Engagement.

  1. Huw says

    Although I think this is very interesting – particularly the use of autonomic testing – one major factor is that the Xbox Live ads are new and unique. It’s similar to the way ads were when TV first started – they hadn’t yet worn out their welcome. If more ads started hitting Xbox Live, I’m sure these kind of increased results would plummet.

    I’ll have to read the white paper.

    1. Roger Dooley says

      I agree, controlling for the novelty factor would be tough. No doubt the first television commercial seemed very engaging, too.


  2. Qunice Hunsicker says

    This is what I had always suspected. Emsense does NOT do EEG or brain activity as their website claimed, but rather a whole host of biometrics similar to Innerscope. Atleast Carl Marci at Innerscope is a medical doctor, and has some idea as to what he is measuring and is genuine about that – biometrics. The truth is finally out – Emsense does peripheral biometrics and physiology. Their website should say that, and as a company they should be comfortable admitting it openly. Now my question to you Roger is, “What is a biometrics company like Emsense doing being in a neuromarketing weblog like yours !!”

    As always, your blogs are delightful.


  3. I thought that Emsense technology was a kind of single electrode EEG.

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