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    Nobody pays me to write any of the copy on my blog, and should I ever have the good fortune that they do, I will declare it. My main employment is as the owner and principal of The Future Place consultancy. The Future Place provides two key services 1) training and services to industry and academic bodies and 2) consultancy services to companies. The details of the companies I work with are a private matter, but if I blog about any company who has paid The Future Place more than expenses recently (approx. two years) I will mention that they are a client. I hold equity in Virtual Surveys and provide consulting services to them from time to time. I am paid to run courses for a number of trade bodies and over the last few years clients have included ESOMAR, AMSRS, MRS, and MRIA.

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Phil Harris

Ray, the Millward Brown paper mentioned in your October 30 blog provides some useful groundwork for understanding the impact of neuroscience-based measures in communications research. However, as this paper focuses on fMRI-based research and other neuroscience-grounded research techniques that are not particularly well-suited for communication research, the perspective presented in this paper neglects an important application of neuroscience-based research that forces a rethink on most, if not all, the objections raised to the use of imaging technology in communications research.


An innovative form of EEG-based technology, termed steady-state topography (SST) that is offered by Neuro-Insight has been used since the late 90's to provide communications insights in commercially viable timelines and at costs that are competitive with mainstream research techniques. Using SST technology, brain electrical activity responses of 50 or more research participants may be collected in a single day, and segmented responses of 100 or more respondents capable of being turned around in weeks, rather than months. SST measures have now been collected in response to close to a thousand commercials.

Use of SST research is certainly assisting our understanding of how the brain works at a fundamental level, but importantly for the purposes of this discussion, Neuro-Insight and Colmar Brunton have been working with this technology to provide Australian organisations with an understanding of consumer's engagement, attention, emotional valence (like/dislike), and long-term memory encoding responses to their communications on a second-by-second basis. The research is conducted while participants experience research materials embedded within normalistic viewing scenarios, so responses are a better reflection of actual viewing responses than methods that direct attention to the research stimulus.

Research insights using SST have been demonstrated to directly impact on the bottom line of Colmar Brunton's clients, and notably, result in substantial improvements in advertising tracking scores. So we're confident that the SST measures are providing insights into aspects of consumer responses to communications that do impact on purchase behaviour. Furthermore, using combinations of SST, quantitative and qualitative research techniques, we’ve seen how neuroscience-based measures provide information that is simply not revealed through use of traditional measures, a firm basis to commend a place for neuroscience-based measures in the well-rounded researchers’ toolkit! Further detail on the use of SST technology is available on the Colmar Brunton Neuroscience pages (www.cbr.com.au/neuroscience) or at www.neuro-insight.com.au.

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