Can neuroscience help a magazine sell more copies? New Scientist wants to find out, so they teamed up with NeuroFocus, who bill themselves the world's largest neuromarketing company, to make a magazine cover.
Using high density arrays of electroencephalographic (EEG) sensors to capture test subjects' brainwave activity, NeuroFocus measured and analyzed their responses to three different cover designs for the August 7 edition of New Scientist.
By monitoring brainwave activity across the full brain as subjects viewed each of the covers, and using eye-tracking technology to identify which specific parts of the cover they were looking at, NeuroFocus was able to measure their immediate, subconscious reaction to the designs scored in seven NeuroMetrics.
These included: Attention, Emotional Engagement, Memory Retention, Overall Effectiveness, Purchase Intent, Novelty, and Awareness.
By discovering how well something like a magazine cover scores in each of these NeuroMetrics, NeuroFocus says it can help the publisher to pick the cover which is most likely to capture interest and appeal to potential buyers at the deep subconscious level. The same technology can be applied to a wide range of areas, including brands, products, packaging, in-store marketing, and advertising to discover the strength of subconscious responses they generate in the brain.
Graham Lawton, deputy editor of New Scientist said, "Like most newsstand magazines we need to create covers which grab people's attention and keep them engaged. This experiment showed us that, neurologically speaking, there was a clear winner which stood out noticeably from the other two possible covers. It's going to be very interesting to see how the use of neuroscience can translate to increased newsstand sales."
21st century marketing science?
NeuroFocus says neuromarketing is increasingly being used across numerous industries worldwide to help companies improve their product development, package design, and marketing efforts, but this is the first time it has been used by a magazine publisher.
Thom Noble, NeuroFocus UK managing director, said, "The practical applications for neuromarketing are very wide ranging and we work with a diverse selection of clients around the world. We were particularly pleased about this opportunity to work with New Scientist, however, because it gives us a chance to show that what we do is based on robust science, is highly actionable, and delivers demonstrable results.
"All three tested cover designs performed very well in the research. But in terms of overall neurological effectiveness the results for the chosen design were significantly higher, driven by exceptionally impressive emotional engagement levels. Strong levels of emotional engagement stimulate memory retention and purchase intent."
An online version of New Scientist with the specially selected cover and an accompanying article is available here:
NeuroFocus is headquartered in the U.S. and operates globally through offices and NeuroLabs in the UK and Europe, the Asia/Pacific region, Latin America, and the Middle East. The Nielsen Company is a strategic investor in NeuroFocus.