With a new year comes a new raft of predictions for what might unfold within it. PerformanceIN has been speaking with marketing experts in a number of disciplines to gauge their thoughts on what could make 2016 a groundbreaking year for their space. 

In this piece, Owen Hanks, general manager for Europe at Yume, sees a greater use of neuroscience to drive emotional engagement with advertising.

Faced with ever-increasing competition, marketers need to delve deeper into what makes content engaging. Throughout the coming year brands will increasingly turn to neuroscience to provide the answers and gain a competitive advantage. To demonstrate why this will happen, we’ll use the situation unfolding in the video ad space as an example.

Neuroscience offers key insights into the subconscious influence of video advertising on emotional engagement – enabling marketers to gauge the actual reaction to their video ads in real time rather than relying on clicks or shares to measure engagement. So how will neuroscience be used to maximise engagement with video advertising in 2016?  

Testing has always been a key part of the marketing process – trying out different ad formats, permutations and combinations to determine which achieves the best results – but until recently marketers were unable to determine the why behind the what. Why do consumers prefer one style of packaging over another? Why does one colour or size button get more clicks than another? But this year advances in neuroscience and biometric testing will enable marketers to comprehend the mechanisms that drive these subconscious preferences. 

Eye-tracking technologies – which were initially developed to assist disabled people and will ultimately be used to enable us to control connected devices with our eyes – are already being used to determine which visual elements of an ad consumers focus on, and how their gaze travels around the screen. Analysis of facial expressions is being used to understand reactions to marketing materials, although algorithms are still being developed to factor in personal context and the various ways individuals display emotion. Electroencephalogram (EEG) machines also play a key role in tracking brain activity to monitor and analyse emotional reactions to advertising. 

The practical application of these technologies to optimise video advertising will grow considerably throughout 2016. When combined with enriched consumer data, these behavioural patterns will empower marketers to deliver personalised messaging to reach the right consumers at the point when they are most receptive.  

A key focus for marketers this year will be reaching consumers on the right screen, and understanding how emotional engagement and mind-set differs between devices will be essential.  Each device has its own intrinsic strengths, which marketers must utilise for optimum engagement. For example, while emotional engagement on all devices reaches a peak with the first five seconds – so marketers should convey their brand message early on – this peak is sustained more on a tablet than on any other device, meaning these devices are well-suited to longer video ads. Over the coming months, neuroscience will be used to determine how the unique user mindset of a device impacts advertising performance, and the insights gained will inform creative design, messaging, and targeting. 

Understanding emotional engagement is the next frontier for video advertising, and neuroscience will offer the solution. Throughout 2016 marketers will use the insights provided by neuroscience to generate creative best practises designed to maximise the influence of each and every impression, to build an emotional connection that will make their brand stand out from the crowd.