CBS, Nielsen Put New Face on Ad Effectiveness

CBS, working with units of Nielsen, has found a way to test TV commercials using neuroscience that shows which commercials will result in sales.

A five-month study compared a combination of EEG, biometric and facial coding responses to retail purchase data and found a meaningful relationship between the reaction of consumers displayed in the lab to results in the market.

Separately, facial coding had a 9% correlation to sales and EEG results had a 62% relationship to sales. Taking all of the neuroscience results together allowed researchers to explain 77% of an ad’s strength.

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“As a result of the partnership with Nielsen at our Television City Research Center in Las Vegas, we are excited to now offer an array of new neuroscience measures for pre-testing advertising,” said David Poltrack, chief research officer, CBS Corporation and president of CBS Vision. “These tools enable us to offer advertisers a unique opportunity to assure that their creative will deliver before they move forward with their campaigns.”

The research was released Monday at the Advertising Research Foundation’s 2016 audience measurement conference in New York.

In the first formal study using Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience's new Video Ad Explorer, nearly 60 video ads from consumer packaged goods companies were evaluated.

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Incremental sales generated by the TV schedules for those ads were determined by Nielsen Catalina Solutions’ single-source data.

There are hundreds of different metrics within EEG, core biometrics, and facial coding that can be generated for a single ad based on complex brainwave patterns, heart rate, skin conductance and patterns of facial expression. The study confirmed the importance of multiple measures and gives new insights into the right combination to predict in-store sales, Nielsen said.

“We believe this is the holy grail for marketers: confidence in knowing creative’s potential impact on the bottom line – before it ever enters the market,” said Dr. Carl Marci, chief neuroscientist at Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience. “However, not all neuroscience measures are created equal. We’ve learned that only a few key combinations have the predictive power for in-market sales.”

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At a time when TV networks are trying to demonstrate return on investment to advertisers, being able to make sure that only the most effective ads air could be a boon.

"Every marketer wants to be able to answer the question 'But did it work?' with a definitive 'Yes.' Now, there's no doubt that neuromeasures can actually predict whether an ad will drive in-store sales," said Leslie Wood, chief research officer at Nielsen Catalina Solutions. “A key piece of this analysis was to be able to isolate the sales impact of the creative from the media tactics, using advanced machine learning to do the heavy lifting."

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.