Marketers Reading Your Mind


by Tim Moran

I'm quite fond of a site called Neuromarketing: Where Brain Science and Marketing Meet. It's the creation of Roger Dooley, described as "a consultant and entrepreneur who combines knowledge of emerging phenomena like neuromarketing and social networking with decades of hands-on marketing experience. He helps companies understand the implications of new technologies and techniques, and guides them in the implementation of practical strategies to adapt to them."

Neuromarketing actually lives at NeuroscienceMarketing.com, "the place to talk about using brain science in Marketing and Sales." As you might imagine, every once in a while something truly odd, yet interesting, turns up here--like New Neuromarketing Headsets.

It seems that a good deal of the study in this field is done via brain measurement. To that end, Dooley recently served up a "new product" write up, much like you'd find over at eWeek -- except, rather than being about a SATA drive or a NAS enclosure, it details the latest in mind-reading devices.

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A couple of new headsets that can be used for neuromarketing studies won't win any fashion awards, but offer the potential to gauge consumer reactions in relatively normal situations," says the article. The one pictured above is by Hitachi. Now, while I agree that this device is not the height of fashion (at least on this planet), I'm wondering what would be the circumstances of the "normal situation" in which this would be worn--a midnight showing of Plan 9 From Outer Space, perhaps?

Nevertheless, this beauty is special because, unlike "the more common EEG caps, it employs far-red light technology." Far out, man. And how is this cap used in marketing studies you ask? "To my [Dooley's] knowledge, no commercial neuromarketing firm is using this type of technology. One wonders whether monitoring just the prefrontal area of the brain is sufficient for neuromarketing purposes. Of course, in the absence of published studies on the accuracy of predictions made with different types of brain activity measurement, the effectiveness of a device like this is open to conjecture."

Bizarre as this may seem to those of us not privy to the mysterious ways of neuromarketing, a no lesser light than Ray Kurzweil, of OCR and synthesizer fame, already has this concept on the brain: "Kurzweil predicts exponential growth in the spatial and temporal resolution of brain scan technology. It's hard to say if [this] device moves us down that curve, but it's good to see that people are attacking the problem from a variety of directions."

Yeah, with their heads.