Posted on August 21, 2007,

THQ Uses Brainwave Patterns for Research and Development for Frontline

articles-synesthesia-brain.jpgYou’ve all seen it–the ad that somehow, you love. It may make you laugh, it could trigger some emotional, dramatic response, but whatever the case, you’re in.

Could that brain response have all been foreseen and expected by market researchers?

Traditional research involves focus groups, but to literally get inside someone’s head to figure out how their brain will respond is something different. THQ is just one company which has hired a group to measure the brainwaves, heart-rate and sweat responses, and according to some it’s the cutting edge of market research.

But it feels a bit intrusive, doesn’t it?

“We typically rely on people to tell us what they think. Using EmSense technology, it’s not what people say, but what they’re thinking about it. And that’s so much more accurate,” Bob Aniello, chief marketing officer at THQ, said in a ZDnet article today.

EmSense is a company which was started in 2004, and marketers can use their services to test how people will respond to their advertisements. It’s interesting to note that THQ is its only publicly disclosed client, though a company representative said they had dealt with several other clients since January.

But does this work?

“Consumer advertising largely doesn’t shape your subconscious behavior,” Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, said in the article. “Part of the problem is that we haven’t figured out how to study the quick, unconscious emotional responses to the advertisements, and this kind of technology may give us clue.”

There are many different elements to the information EmSense gathers from research participants using a wireless headset. What’s measured is the electrical activity of the brain using an EEG (electroencephalogram) sensor without the use of gels, motions and facial twitches, and stress rates using a heart-rate monitor.

“Combing all these measurements together, you get a model of how someone’s responding to an ad or a game,” Hans Lee, chief technology officer of EmSense, said in the article. “We can get a second-by-second emotional and cognitive response of the audience.”

So the answer according to EmSense is that yes, this does work. And Bob Aniello of THQ is a happy customer. Is this going to be the start of a larger trend to get inside of our heads to sell us products which hopefully aren’t crap?

via ZDNet.com

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