The advertising industry has been trying to predict or influence consumer behavior for decades. This is nothing new. All that is different is that we have fancier equipment and bigger technology budgets to invest in the work. The concept is the same; if we can see what works, then when it's launched full-scale, success is inevitable.
In theory, the concept is awesome. We often complain that companies want to pay for the 10% part (execution) and not for the 90% (research, creating, and testing). More and more often, executives want great results without the work behind the curtain.
There is a reason why that may be the case. In the past, they may have been burned by faulty and ineffective focus groups and field studies. It is easy to do bad research.
Now that may change. An article pointed out that more brands and agencies are using devices that measure the "neuro signals" released by consumers when they see something that moves them. Instead of relying on consumers to tell us what they feel (since they are often wrong) we can rely on their involuntary reactions.
Can this be a breakthrough? Possibly. But it still doesn't predict how likely a consumer is to buy a product. For example, let's say we're Lady Gaga fans. Though we like her music, we wouldn't be caught in a Walmart purchasing her album, or caught buying her songs on iTunes or Google Play, since all our social media streams are connected. Nope, we're too concerned with our social image. So would our neuro signals show that we like Gaga? Yes. Would it show that we'd buy her product? No; more research would be necessary.
This just goes to show that there is no standalone tool in advertising that will get you exactly what you need. A balanced approach is the best approach.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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