I’m not big on making grandiose statements, but I’m making this one with a tremendous amount of confidence. If you’re involved in marketing, a company you’ve probably never heard of is using technology in a way that’s going to transform your industry.
The July/August 2016 issue of Inc. Magazine includes an article about a company called Lightwave that was started by 29-year-old ex-DJ Rana June. June is using neuroscience to determine how well things connect with consumers — from tracking the second-by-second reactions of crowds at an NCAA basketball game, to determining how attentive movie audiences are. The company equips viewers and attendees with biometric equipment (think fancy Fitbits) to gauge their emotional reactions to what they see in real time.
What makes this so exciting is that the technology captures the true emotions of the viewers without filters. Traditional research techniques such as surveys or focus groups are susceptible to bias. Researchers know that many people give the answer they think the researcher wants to hear or that they believe they should give, instead of an answer that’s an accurate reflection of their feelings. But biometrics don’t lie, especially when a large group is being sampled.
The article gives a great example about the recent Leonardo DiCaprio film, The Revenant. 20th century Fox hired Lightwave to determine the engagement of audiences at screenings. The studio worried that the movie was too long to hold the audience’s full attention. Lightwave measured factors such as heart rate, sweat, body temperature, and fidgeting through the entire film. From the article: “… the study identified 15 moments when the audience experienced the fight-or-flight response (as determined by a specific heart-rate pattern) and 4,716 seconds during which viewers were motionless, signaling peak filmgoer engagement.” Lightwave also determined that the viewers were most emotionally involved at the very end, proving that the film wasn’t a moment too long.
Why does this technology excite me? It’s simple. Those of us who create advertising and other marketing materials have known for decades that the key to success involves emotional connections and responses. We’ve fought to convince executives and engineers that raw facts alone don’t motivate people — and while people may like to think of themselves as rational animals, we’re anything but. Now, thanks to this technology, we’re at the threshold of having a scientific way to prove the power of that emotional connection and accurately test the effectiveness of the messages we develop.
I’m not exaggerating in the least when I say this has the power to transform advertising more than any other development in my lifetime. And that includes the internet.