The Neuromarketing Challenge


OK, readers, I need some input. Here’s my plan. Every neuromarketing firm says it has data showing the effectiveness of its methods. I really believe that some actually do know what they are doing. But, there’s little or no peer-reviewed research proving that one can reliably determine the effectiveness of advertising or the appeal of a product using EEG, biometrics, facial coding, etc.

So, in the interest of moving things along in the nascent neuromarketing industry, I’m planning to offer a guest article slot to any neuromarketing firm that wants to lay out work that they believe reliably shows the effectiveness of their technique in a way that would satisfy a skeptic. And, I’ll keep comments open so that you, the reader, can be part of the “peer review” process. Here’s my plan:

1) Article(s) must show statistically significant and actionable information obtained by neuromarketing techniques. A case study along the lines of, “we analyzed four commercials, picked the best one, and sales went through the roof!” won’t cut it. This kind of anecdotal data is intriguing and suggestive, but doesn’t prove anything by itself. I don’t plan to edit the articles, but in reviewing them for publication I’ll temporarily don my neuro-skeptic hat.

2) Each guest article should be fairly short, say, under 1,000 words. Shorter is fine. The style should be geared to the lay reader, since most Neuromarketing readers aren’t PhDs. (We do have a few of those, too, and maybe some will engage in the discussion!)

3) Media (charts, videos, etc.) can be included in the article if the content adds to the understanding of the lay reader. Additional resources (more charts, supporting data, etc.) can be introduced by links in the article. These additional resources will be placed on our server to ensure the links stay valid and to prevent any questions about supporting data changing over time.

4) Comments will stay open and be moderated only for breaches of civility, promotional content, etc. (The usual stuff!) The author of the article must agree to stay engaged with commenters for at least a week or two following publication to create a full and free discussion.

So, what do you think? Am I missing any key ingredients? Will anyone take me up on this? Do you think any skeptics will be converted if we get some solid submissions/discussion? Do I need a brain scan for even suggesting this? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

  1. Keith Landsborough says

    Great idea Roger… and clearly you’re not a sceptic or the customary cash prize to the first person to empirically prove your hypothesis would be offered.

    Interesting paper not too long ago…
    “Analysis of Neurophysiological Reactions to Advertising Stimuli by Means of EEG and Galvanic Skin Response Measures”, Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics, 2009, Vol. 2, No. 1, 21–31

    As the paper states near theend:
    “the research presented in this article has served as a pilot to a comprehensive
    project, Exploring the Consumer’s Mind, which began in Poland in 2007.”

  2. Skeptic says

    I don’t think anyone will do this. These companies don’t want to expose their data to criticism from third parties. This venue is too public and too widely read. They’ll only show their data in private to clients who want to be convinced anyway.


  3. Luchia says

    I’m studying neuroscience at the Canadian Centre for Behavioral Neuroscience attached to the University of Lethbridge. I absolutely agree that neuromarketing research will help boost sales. We’ve only reached the tip of the iceberg and there is so much more to learn about our buying behaviors. There’s so much I’ve learnt about that can be used for neuromarketing, and I hope to pursue a masters or PhD in this cause. Good on you for doing this, I look forward in seeing the collaborated efforts of different research companies so that we can get this ball rolling.

  4. Alain Nonyme says

    How about starting something more publicly embarassing instead? How about a Wikipedia entry listing all neuromarketing firms and what proof they have published?

    1. Roger Dooley says

      Actually, Alain, this isn’t intended to be embarrassing at all. I do expect to have at least a few takers able to present reasonably convincing data. Privately, I’ve seen some data that might not be “academic” quality but which goes beyond anecdotal success stories. But, we’ll see…


  5. Marc Van Rymenant says

    Hi Roger, we used fMRI and advanced eyetracking since 5 years as a important step in our methodology. You can see concrete business results on

    We’re currently writing a white paper around telecom provider in Europe based on fMRI techniques.

    Nevertheless, we generate concrete business result and without fMRI, it will not be possible to make these results.

  6. Roger Dooley says

    Great, Marc, does that mean you’ll participate here and share that data?


  7. Biju Dominic says

    Hi Roger,
    FinalMile Consulting will be happy to share a case study of successfully using the principles of Cognitive Neuroscience to effect behaviour change. We explain and develop interventions to influence behaviour in different contexts- marketing, organizational and social. We are so confident of the ability of this new science to bring about measurable behaviour changes that we have an ROI based pricing for all our projects. We work across a spectrum of clients belonging to packaged goods, consumer durables, pharmaceutical, medical equipments, e commerce and hospitality industries.
    But we are a big critic of the existing approach of believing that use of Cognitive Neuroscience = Neuromarketing = use fMRI/EEG to test effectiveness of a 30 sec commercial. We believe this approach is too peripheral and simplistic.
    At FinalMile Consulting we believe in a far more bottom up approach. We have studied/studying the physiology of human memory system, human emotions, sensory system, decision making process etc and have developed/developing new theories and practices. We are willing to share a case study of how learnings from Cognitive Neuroscience was used to develop interventions to handle the largest cause of unnatural death in Mumbai city- 8-10 people die everyday in Mumbai as they trespass the railway tracks. This case study will prove that getting best results out of Cognitive Neuroscience will entail developing new research methods, new approaches to strategy and execution development and a new media strategy.

    1. Roger Dooley says

      Sounds interesting, Biju, though the challenge was really directed at firms offering “technical” neuromarketing services, for lack of a better term. I.e., those using EEG, fMRI, biometrics, facial coding (automated or manual), etc. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to see your results!


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