Neuromarketing 101

What key trends can we expect in 2020 and beyond?

What key trends can we expect in 2020 and beyond? CEO of Neuro-Insight UK, Shazia Ginai, offers her predictions, from unconventional measurement to secrets to the power of context

While neuroscience has long been used in the medical field, its only in recent years that it’s been used in the market research sector. But despite being in its relative infancy, the neuromarketing industry is growing at immense pace, with a report by Global Neuromarketing Technology Market forecasting that it will register at a compound annual growth rate of 12% between 2019-2026.

Neuromarketing allows us to look right into people’s brains to see how they’re responding to advertising and why – which, in an era obsessed with factors like transparency and ROI, is a huge asset. So it’s not surprising to see this industry gaining traction and popularity. But what specific trends can we expect to see driving its growth in 2020 and beyond?

A growing appetite for unconventional measurement methods

The latest Grit report highlighted a growing dissatisfaction from marketers with traditional techniques like Click-Through-Rates and impacts to measure advertising effectiveness – and this rising appetite for methods ‘outside of convention’ will act as a powerful driving force for the neuromarketing industry’s continued expansion next year.

On the surface, it seems easier and cheaper to rely on these methods. But the problem is, in an industry so convoluted, they are no longer supplying the answers we need. They provide data but not enough insight about the underlying motivations of consumers which ultimately leaves a gap in understanding of the right levers to grow brands in this tough climate. There’s been growing dissatisfaction with these traditional methods for some time, but 2020 will be the year advertisers show they have skin in the game by investing in more robust, reliable and actionable measurement techniques like Neuromarketing.

Desire to move away from short-terminism

Underpinning this eagerness to get results, in part, is the growing desire to move away from short termism and towards prioritising long-term advertising effectiveness. The poor economy has fueled a drive toward treating advertising effectiveness as a tick box exercise, but there’s a creeping realisation that this isn’t a valuable, or even accurate way to measure true advertising effectiveness, which is often built over time.

And while this narrative has been talked about before, we’re now hearing more and more that brands are filtering agencies according to whether they can deliver the long-term effectiveness they’re seeking. So being able to understand and more importantly, prove, how advertising campaigns are driving value for the long-term, is becoming increasingly vital – something neuromarketing is more than qualified to do.

People are getting more comfortable with behavioural economics

At the same time, as people get more comfortable with behavioural economics, this is creating a positive knock-on effect on the neuromarketing industry by leading them to want to learn about the psychology behind advertising in its totality. Aiding this is the fact that technology in this space is advancing and becoming more accessible.

Biometric techniques used to be very expensive, and equipment was bulky, but with more players entering the space, the prices are reducing, which, along with technological advances, makes non-conscious methods more research friendly. As it becomes more common, the risk-factor associated with these more unusual or less ‘tried and tested’ methods will also reduce, and marketers will feel more confident using neuroscience as a marketing tool.

BBC's time lapse Dracula billboard

Renewed focus on the power of context

Ten years ago, you might have seen a movie advert on a billboard, and then again on the TV a few days later. But now we’re likely to see several versions of the same campaign across a much wider selection of devices, platforms and environments – both physical and editorial. These factors all play a role in modifying how we respond to advertising campaigns. But what many people don’t realise is that most of those modifications take place implicitly.

As such, we’re still caught in a crossfire between wanting to be able to target people in a highly specific way – via radio, or Out-of-Home media, for instance - and not really understanding how all these other factors are impacting how we process that advertising subconsciously. As pressure builds on advertisers to prove the value of their investments, we can expect to see renewed focus on trying to understand, and harness, the power of context.

But with so many factors to consider, it’s pretty much impossible to measure this with traditional measurement techniques so it’s likely that neuromarketing will find itself at the helm of this trend.

Can advertisers manipulate your brain through neuromarketing?

No room for secrets

We know consumers want more personal, customised brand experiences. But the complex nature of the human brain, means it’s possible for consumers to conceal — even subconsciously — their true preferences and opinions. But neuromarketing leaves no room for secrets. This makes it a powerful tool for both driving, and measuring, truly powerful advertising.

As the industry matures In 2020 and beyond, the priority for advertisers should be on educating themselves on the value neuromarketing could bring to their business and seeking out quality partners that can guide them in this space.

This article appeared in issue 4 of Marketing Society members' publication EMPOWER. View the archive here.