Tell your 18-year-old niece who wants to get into advertising to skip the media and communications degree and study science and math instead. In last month's column, I briefly mentioned "BusinessWeek" senior writer Stephen Baker's new book, "The Numerati," which introduces us to the mathematical gurus who are creating predictive algorithms to decipher our next move based on our data trail. It's not hard to imagine, considering everything we do can be traced back to some electronic data pool that includes our credit card purchases, cell phone bills, and online browsing behavior. Someone once told me that if I wanted to understand a person's values, all I needed to do was examine her credit card purchases. Try it with your own credit card statements, and see what you uncover about yourself.
Now another interesting book has come out that has convinced me that I need to go back to school. "Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy," by marketing wizard (and former ClickZ columnist) Martin Lindstrom, is based on a research project that Lindstrom conducted over three years. Lindstrom and his team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) technology to understand what happens in consumers' brains as they are exposed to advertising and specific brands. This research falls under a body of marketing called neuromarketing.
"Neuromarketing," a term coined by market research professor Ale Smidts in 2002, refers to a new field of marketing that explores consumers' sensorimotor, cognitive, and affective response to marketing stimuli. According to Wikipedia's description of neuromarketing:
In simple terms, neuromarketing looks at physiological responses that consumers have to advertising and brands to determine its effects and the likelihood if one will purchase a product. The consumers' reactions will be specific to colors, tastes, sounds, and so on. The findings can help marketers create products and services that are more focused to the brain's responses, the subconscious -- not the conscious, rationale mind that is usually triggered in focus groups.
Lindstrom's research is the largest compilation of neuromarketing data available, and the results are impressive and surprising. There are several main takeaways that link back to what it means to be a human being and our primal needs and associations:
Lindstrom states that by the time we reach age 66, most of us will have seen approximately 2 million television commercials. As my five-year-old niece would say, "That's a lot of commercials." As a result, we all have the attention span of a 3 year old and the retention span of a 70 year old. As marketers, we must explore new strategies to reach our consumers on a personal, innate level that they will respond to physiologically and in some cases will have us saying, "Out with the new, in with the old."
For those interested, WNYC's Leonard Lopate conducted an interview with Martin Lindstrom, which can be found on the station's Web site.
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Based in New York, Anna Papadopoulos has held several digital media positions and has worked across many sectors including automotive, financial, pharmaceutical, and CPG.
An advocate for creative media thinking and an early digital pioneer, Anna has been a part of several industry firsts, including the first fully integrated campaign and podcast for Volvo and has been a ClickZ contributor since 2005. She began her career as a media negotiator for TBS Media Management, where she bought for media clients such as CVS and RadioShack. Anna earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from St. John's University in New York.
Anna's ideas and columns represent only her own opinion and not her company's.
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