Neuroscience Techniques and Effectiveness in Advertising: Perils and Pitfalls
We have run several special issues previously involving Neuroscience in Advertising, and it is still a topic of great interest to scholars as well as to practitioners. There have been criticisms raised about neuro research and the resulting conclusions being drawn, however. Some have found problems with tools involved and data that is full of noise. All of this requires careful screening by knowledgeable individuals to purify the results.
As this field is rapidly evolving, it is important to present cutting-edge results that advance our knowledge of which tools are best in the proper circumstances, and how to avoid mistaken readings of resulting data. Given the importance of this topic for the advertising industry and given the research priorities of the Advertising Research Foundation, I would like to reopen this topic for discussion. Successful submissions will be published in JAR in 2019.
To be considered, papers should contribute to both advertising theory and practice. Given our strong practitioner readership, particular emphasis is on practitioner implications of the research findings. We also welcome papers critical of the contribution of neuroscience as given the enthusiasm around these methods. Neuro techniques could focus on eye tracking, galvanometers, fMRIs, facial recognition software, skull cap sensors, virtual goggles, etc.
The following list is an indicative, but not exhaustive, list of areas where we are seeking submissions:
- Comparison between neuro and traditional research methods
- Neuroscience traps to avoid
- How to screen out noise from the data
- Objective evidence to complement perceptual research
- Comparisons across neuro techniques
- Cost vs. benefit analysis of using neuro: Do the substantive costs pay off?
- Research quality issues associated with implementing neuroscience in marketing
Maximum length for papers is 7,000 words, with shorter papers encouraged. Authors can use appendices for material useful, but not central to the paper.
The best paper submitted may be invited to present their research at a suitable ARF conference to showcase their research to a wide practitioner audience. The submission deadline to be considered for this opportunity is 31st of July, 2018.
Any questions or to submit abstracts for feedback – please contact the Editor-in-Chief: Professor John B. Ford (email@example.com).
See previous calls for papers here.
The basic intent of advertising is to persuade a potential customer to purchase the goods or services of the advertiser or to otherwise respond in the way that the advertiser desires. Advertising management is the application of the principles, concepts, and research of management science, marketing, and communications to the design and evaluation of advertising. Advertising management comprises three general types of activities. Strategic planning comprises activities that help determine ways in which the advertising department can support the organization in meeting its goals. Research and evaluation comprises efforts to determine how best to reach a target market, including general research efforts as well as specific pre- and post-testing. Design and development comprises the actual design and development of the ad or advertising campaign, including writing copy and designing artwork and layouts.
Advertising management is the application of the principles, concepts, and research of management science, marketing, and communications to the design and evaluation of advertising. Advertising management comprises research to determine the needs and characteristics of the target market, strategic planning to determine advertising goals and objectives and how to reach them, advertising design, and evaluation of advertising and campaign effectiveness. Advertising is just one element of the integrated marketing communications process, which is an approach to marketing communications that combines and integrates multiple sources of marketing information (e.g., advertising, direct response, sales promotions, public relations) to maximize the effectiveness of a marketing campaign.
Sending the Message
In order to understand how to manage the advertising function, one must first understand the nature of advertising as a communications process. Figure 1 shows a simplified model of how advertising attempts to communicate a message to potential customers in an effort to persuade them to purchase the organization's products or services. At its most basic, the communication process begins when the organization (i.e., the sender) decides to transmit a message to potential customers (i.e., receivers). After the organization decides what it wants to convey to the customers (e.g., Acme Corporation produces superior widgets), the message is transmitted to the potential customers using a medium or mix of media that the organization thinks will best reach the target market (e.g., television commercial, newspaper advertisement).
However, this information does not reach the prospective customer directly; it first goes through a series of filters that screen the message. These filters may alter the meaning of the intended message. For example, in the figure below, Acme Corporation is not the only organization that is trying to reach the customer. Two competitors are also sending messages that their widgets are superior and less expensive. The customer may unconsciously screen the message for other reasons, as well. For example, the customer may be a loyal customer of Gizmo Corporation and, therefore, only consider Gizmo's ads for widgets. Or, the customer may not like the background music played in the commercial or the layout of the print advertisement run by Acme and so chooses to ignore them. The potential customer then decodes the filtered message rather than the intended message and encodes an appropriate response. This leads to either positive or negative feedback to the organization that sent the message (e.g., the customer does or does not buy a widget).
Part of the function of advertising management is advertising communication. Research gives advertising managers the data that they need in order to understand how best to communicate with the members of the target market. For example, a local company wanted to advertise its products in its area. They designed two radio ads: one for the local rock station and one for the local classical station. The message of both advertisements was the same. However, the accompanying music was chosen to appeal to the target audience of each station. Unfortunately, someone mixed the ads, and the rock ad was sent to the classical station and the classical ad to the rock station, and the ads were aired. Not only did the advertiser not receive the influx of business that it had expected, but it had to pull the ads and pay for new messages of apology to be aired on both stations.
Although there are numerous activities that fall under the aegis of advertising management, these can be grouped together into three general functions:
- Strategic planning,
- Research and evaluation, and
- Design and development.
In most organizations, the strategic planning function is the process of determining the long-term goals of an organization and developing a plan to use the company's resources -- including materials and personnel -- in reaching these goals. One of these resources is the advertising personnel and the ads that they develop. One of the purposes of strategic planning within the advertising management function is to determine ways in which the advertising department can support the organization in meeting its goals.
In general terms, the purpose of advertising is to persuade potential customers to purchase the products or services of the organization. Another part of the strategic planning function of advertising management, therefore, is to create an advertising campaign that will meet this goal in terms of the higher-level strategy of the organization. Traditionally, this has meant determining the best way to persuade potential customers to purchase the product or service offered by the organization. However, increasingly, advertising is becoming more closely aligned with public relations. Therefore, advertising departments may be called upon to develop ads that manage the public image or reputation with outside agencies and groups.
Another aspect of advertising management is developing the advertising budget (Egelhoff, 2004). For the most part, the greatest proportion of the budget needs to be allocated with those areas that have the highest potential return on investment. For example, one would probably not spend a significant proportion of one's advertising budget to purchase ad space in a professional scientific journal to advertise skateboards. To determine how the budget for an advertising campaign should be allocated, therefore, one needs first to determine what the expected outcome of the ads will be both in the short term and in the long term. Although one might not advertise skateboards in a scientific journal, one might advertise skateboards on a website that is targeted to adolescents and that does not already carry similar advertising in order to build a new market. Similarly, one must estimate the revenue that the ad will produce. It is typically bad strategy to spend more on an advertising campaign than the campaign will...