Nielsen, Neuro-Marketer To Measure ‘Engagement’

Looking for new ways to gauge so-called viewer “engagement,” Nielsen has made a strategic investment in NeuroFocus, which specializes in applying brainwave research to advertising, programming and messaging, officials said Thursday.

Details regarding the investment were not disclosed.

Nielsen and NeuroFocus are joining forces to initially bring an array of new science-based products, services and metrics to clients in consumer packaged goods, television, film and emerging media.

In addition, Nielsen will integrate NeuroFocus’ techniques into existing services to better understand the elements of successful consumer engagement. For example, NeuroFocus’ techniques will become a permanent feature in Nielsen’s Digital Labs research centers at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and at CityWalk in Los Angeles.

Berkeley, Calif.-based NeuroFocus applies brainwave, eye-tracking and skin conductance measurements to track the effectiveness of advertising, branding, packaging, pricing and product design across a broad range of consumer touchpoints.

Leveraging marketing, engineering and neuroscience expertise from the University of California at Berkeley, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the company measures – on a millisecond-by-millisecond basis – attention, engagement and memory retention.

NeuroFocus uses established electroencephalography technology to directly measure the brain’s reaction to a variety of stimuli. Consumers wear a specially designed baseball cap embedded with sensors that passively track brain responses about 2000 times a second as they interact with advertising or marketing materials.

The company can precisely and instantaneously determine what parts of the messages they pay attention to; how they emotionally engage with them; and what is actually moved to memory. In addition, NeuroFocus blends eye tracking, galvanic skin response and other physiological parameters to provide a comprehensive solution that augments the brain wave analysis.

“Because Nielsen is focused on bringing innovative products and services to clients, this alliance is an extraordinary opportunity to incorporate ground-breaking science into our product offerings,” Nielsen executive vice president Susan Whiting said in a prepared statement. “This alliance will enable us to gather truly unique insights about consumers’ attitudes and behavior about which they themselves may not even be fully aware and will complement our other measures of consumer behavior.”

As part of the transaction, Nielsen CEO David Calhoun will become a member of NeuroFocus’ board of directors to help guide the company and its alliance with Nielsen.