Today, I am really happy that we had a discussion with Dr. Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy who is the founder & CEO of Neurons Inc, and Adjunct Faculty Member, Singularity University! 🙂
He is one of very well-known neuromarketing leader and has had many contributions in the field of consumer neuroscience and neuromarketing. You probably know him from his famous book Introduction to Neuromarketing and Consumer Neuroscience.
..and we had a chance to have a discussion with him on some confusing topics regarding neuromarketing topic. Many thanks to him that he sincerely shared his opinions and insights!!
Now, let’s see his insights and advices regarding our questions…
1.What are the benefits of neuromarketing comparing to traditional methods?
As consumers we are not able to monitor or remember every single impression, response, or thought we’ve had during our day. We are also pretty poor at understanding and predicting our own behaviours. Based on this, traditional research methods such as surveys, focus groups and interviews are imprecise measures, at best, but in reality risk missing the actual drivers of consumer choice. I guess we’ve also seen through the latest US election that polling, one of the really standard traditional research methods, has failed miserably, leaving the industry asking “now what?”
Neuromarketing methods, under the broader umbrella of “applied neuroscience,” provides a different take. It provides both the language, understanding and measures of unconscious emotional and cognitive responses that ultimately drive consumer choice. So neuromarketing is closer to the “core” processes that guide choices. Basically, this means that our measures, predictions, and interventions are substantially better with neuro (in combination with traditional methods).
Another thing is that neuromarketing provides an unprecedented level of detail, and in a way we can say that neuro produces an “atomic model” of the consumer journey. In doing so, neuromarketing provides highly detailed and granulated insights on what drives attention, produces emotional responses, reduces cognitive load, and drives choice.
2. Do you think artifical neural network models can take place of neuromarketing methods? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
I see ANN models in two ways:
1)as a machine learning approach that analyses and predicts behaviour, and is typically based on movement patterns, online behaviours, and many other behaviours. This type of ANN models is not unique for neuromarketing, but is more broadly a market research method. So, I assume that neuro based ANN models are what you mean:
2) ANN models themselves can definitely be used in neuromarketing research. For example, we have used ANN to predict traditional research KPIs such as ad liking and other standard scores. But I think the foremost way that we have chosen to use ANN is with NeuroVision, a visual attention prediction tool that can predict automatic/bottom-up attention. Today, NeuroVision is used broadly as a strong predictor of automatic visual attention, and is used in a broad swab of industries, including web design, product development, packaging, retail, and even architecture.
3. As you know, neuromarketing is a multidiscipliner area. But there are some arguements that only neuroscientists should lead it. What do you think about it? Only neuroscience knowledge can help to understand marketing and consumer world over all?
I definitely don’t think neuroscientists should be the only ones on a neuromarketing team. Neuroscientists, like most academics, tend to get very focused on being 100% scientifically accurate, and at the cost of actually being able to communicate the results. So I tend to put it this way: neuromarketing companies suffer from a dissociation problem:
On the one hand, companies may be driven by neuroscientists who may be accurate on the science, but fail miserably in making a solution that clients actually understand and will adopt.
On the other hand, neuromarketing companies may be driven by people who do not have a neuroscience background, or at best have an engineering background but limited neuroscience insights. This business may be good at selling to clients, and making clients want the solution, but will often fail to deliver on promises, and even have highly dubious scientific approaches and data validity
Together, this suggests that a good neuromarketing company should 1) have all the neuroscience in place, and be heavily driven by neuroscientists on the science part; 2) have engineering and data processing protocols that are well made and executed, and 3) have people who are actually able to translate the heavy science into actionable insights for their clients. Focusing on “blobs in the brain” will NOT produce insights for clients. Having robust and realiable, normalised measures of attention, emotion and other scores WILL serve as the cornerstone for actionable insights for clients.
4. Do subliminal messages affect the people same? It should be something has a relativity. Is it possible to make people buy sth. directly when they exposed to a message which the eye can not see consciously? Can you please explain your thoughts on this?
Subliminal perception, however you twist and turn it, tends to be short lived. During a few seconds, subliminal cues can change people’s attention, emotional responses and eventually choice, but it does tend to be vague and short lived. It’s not at all as strong as many people tend to believe and fear.
*** So whatever impact we want subliminal messaging to have should be something that cannot be washed out within a few seconds. I believe that the differences between people may be attributable to difference in working memory, and to some extent this is driven by differences in people’s genetic makeup, such as the COMT gete (see here for a review: link). So there are definitely individual differences, which in turn can affect the effect of subliminal messages. Other genotype issues relate to differences in the serotonin and dopamine systems, which may affect the emotional responses that subliminal cues produce, eventually leading to differences in choice. So there’s absolutely individual differences, and we’re getting close to understand not only IF but WHY people are responding differently to subliminal cues.
5. What do you suggest to young talents who are interested in neuromarketing career?
First of all, PLEASE do not jump on the pop-science bandwagon. It is way too easy for people to use the brain as an argument for outdated and wrong ideas, such as that our right brain is creative, left logical; that we’re only using 10% of our brain capacity; and that women can multitask better than men. Seriously, if you are going into neuromarketing, it is because you want to be strongly influenced and directed by science, not use it as a vehicle for promoting your ideas. This is one of the strongest recommendations I have — also, as prominent clients will become better versed at neuro, they will be able to tell if you don’t know.
Second, make sure to team up with people who 1) know the science, 2) know how to run good studies, and 3) can make themselves understood to clients. Be sure to fill at least one of those rolls in the team.
Be honest and transparent! We at Neurons have chosen to go a specific path, in that we have chosen to have a complete open book policy and full transparency on our methods and metrics. We work with the world’s largest companies, such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Walmart, IKEA and many others, and these companies have scientists employed who actually prefer to get full insights. They won’t buy a solution if they have to trust a black box proprietary solution.
Stay updated! Things are moving fast these days, both in business and science, so being updated on progress is key.
Dr. Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy
Founder & CEO of Neurons Inc, and Adjunct Faculty Member, Singularity University