Cutting-Edge Research Combines fMRI and Biometric Study Results to Reveal “the Emotional Journey” as Key Element in Super Bowl Ad Success

The Time Warner Medialab, Innerscope Research and Temple University Collaborate to Advance Understanding of Non-conscious Drivers of Advertising

NEW YORK--()--The Time Warner Medialab, Innerscope Research and Temple University’s Center for Neural Decision Making (CNDM) at the Fox School of Business today announced the results of a comprehensive study of this year’s Super Bowl ads that reinforced the power of emotion and compelling storytelling.

The research teams used a combination of biometric and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) technologies to monitor viewers’ skin conductance, heart rates, respiration, motion and brain activation to get a more thorough understanding of how consumers reacted to different ads. The findings showed that brands that took audiences on an emotional journey – including Cheerios, Chevrolet, Budweiser and Hyundai – delivered the highest moments of engagement.

“It’s exciting to have the research capabilities to literally go inside the brain of the consumer to find out what’s driving engagement,” said Kristen O’Hara, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer, Time Warner Global Media Group. “These findings deepen our understanding of consumer behavior and we will continue to push the boundaries of ad research to ensure that we’re delivering the most effective content to our consumers and our business partners.”

This year’s top-performing ads took viewers on journeys featuring relatable characters in stories that slowly developed. General Mills’ Cheerios told an intimate story of a growing family featuring a daughter who bargains with her father for a new puppy; Hyundai’s “Sixth Sense” commercial took viewers through the relationship between a father and son; Budweiser told a heartwarming story of determination through a puppy trying to meet up with a Clydesdale horse; and Toyota’s “Joyride” ad brought viewers along for a fun ride with the Muppets. The fMRI results validated the initial biometric study’s findings of increased engagement among the top 10 performers which were announced last week.

“Traditional measures capture aspects of cognition, but advertisers need to know more than what people consciously think about ads,” Innerscope Research Co-founder and Chief Science Officer Dr. Carl Marci said. “In order to go deeper into areas of the brain, you need tools like fMRI that can help you understand the mechanisms that allow ads to break through the clutter.”

The biometrics study was conducted live during the Super Bowl while Innerscope monitored 80 participants to capture fluctuations in heart rate, skin conductance, and breathing patterns at the company’s Media Lab and facilities in Boston and the Time Warner Medialab in New York.

“The biggest challenge here was to conduct a study of academic rigor within an industry timeframe,” said Khoi Vo, Senior Research Associate at CNDM and lead researcher on the fMRI study.

Ads that performed well on biometrics also elicited increased brain activity, relative to ads that performed poorly, in key areas of interest for marketers. These included brain regions associated with emotional relevance (amygdala), memory formation (hippocampus) and executive function (lateral prefrontal cortex). Among top-performers, ads like those from Cheerios and Volkswagen elicit emotional responses as well as activating two additional regions of the brain commonly associated with valuation and reward – the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and ventral striatum. These areas are consistent with prior work conducted by Temple CNDM in the area of advertising effectiveness research.

“It is exciting to see some consistency across studies, as well as convergence across methodologies – in this case biometrics and fMRI,” said Dr. Angelika Dimoka, Director of CNDM. “The Center has been at the forefront of advancing research in consumer neuroscience through its emphasis on strong theoretical frameworks, multi-methodological approaches and convergent validity. Though consumer neuroscience has been criticized in the past for lacking in these aspects, this study moves the needle on all fronts and represents a significant advancement in the field.”

About Time Warner

Time Warner Inc., a global leader in media and entertainment with businesses in television networks, filmed entertainment and publishing, uses its industry-leading operating scale and brands to create, package and deliver high-quality content worldwide through multiple distribution outlets.

About Innerscope Research

Founded in 2006, Innerscope Research, Inc. is the leading integrated consumer neuroscience company dedicated to improving the way marketers understand consumer decision making. By measuring emotional engagement, Innerscope helps Fortune 500 clients optimize their brands, products and communications for superior in-market performance. With its breakthrough and validated methodology, including the latest advances in biometrics, neurometrics, psychometrics and self-reporting, Innerscope measures and analyzes moment-by-moment non-conscious responses, the primary drivers of behavior and choice. Founded by Harvard and MIT scientists, Innerscope has been recognized with ARF Innovation and Rising Star Awards, ESOMAR Best Presentation Award, and as a 2013 EXPLOR award finalist at IIR’s TMRE. For more information, visit www.innerscope.com.

About Temple University Center for Neural Decision Making

The Center for Neural Decision Making (CNDM) at Temple University’s Fox School of Business is at the forefront of academic research in consumer neuroscience, employing a multi-methodological approach to understand the neurophysiological bases of consumer behavior and decision making. Working closely with practitioners, and experts in academia, the CNDM seeks to apply academic rigor to address practical research questions in the areas of advertising and marketing. For more information, visit www.fox.temple.edu/neural.

Contacts

Media:
Time Warner
Mallory Weinberg 212-484-6511
Mallory.Weinberg@timewarner.com
or
Innerscope Research
Todd Graff 617-309-0401
tgraff@ctpboston.com
or
Shelley Harrison 617-412-4000
sharrison@ctpboston.com
or
Temple University
Brandon Lausch 215-204-4115
blausch@temple.edu

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Contacts

Media:
Time Warner
Mallory Weinberg 212-484-6511
Mallory.Weinberg@timewarner.com
or
Innerscope Research
Todd Graff 617-309-0401
tgraff@ctpboston.com
or
Shelley Harrison 617-412-4000
sharrison@ctpboston.com
or
Temple University
Brandon Lausch 215-204-4115
blausch@temple.edu