The media industry is making greater use of the precepts of neuroscience in creating compelling content for viewers. The ARF has been advocating neuroscience in media research for several years. Now, a partnership between Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience and YuMe, a firm that looks at cross-platform content, is using neuroscience to more efficiently ascertain the power of content across devices. I talked about this with Devin Fallon, Director, Media Insights and Analytics at YuMe and Dr. Brendan Murray, Vice President of Client Services and Neuroscience at Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience, at the recent ARF conference.
Charlene Weisler: What are some of the key takeaways of your collaboration?
Brendan Murray: One of the key takeaways we found was that, from a non-conscious perspective, emerging technologies like virtual reality and 360 video really have the opportunity to engage consumers and get them interested and involved in the content that is being presented. We do find though that there is this balance or interplay that content creators, brands and advertisers need to keep in mind between giving people the ability to freely explore their environment -- to have that freedom that we know to be engaging -- and balancing that with the flow of the story that is trying to be communicated. How do you let people explore their environment but also still track whatever the story is or whatever the messaging is that you are trying to get across? What are some of the ways that content creators and advertisers can actually do that?
Weisler: I believe that your recent work involved three different sets of videos.
Devin Fallon: Yes. It was very important for us to get a range of very different types of content. So we were very fortunate in the partners that we were able to work with.
We had a movie promo that was putting the viewer into one of the characters from the movie and putting them in the middle of a menacing conversation between the hero and the villain. There was a nice experiential element to it in addition to the narrative -- a real space to explore that could take advantage of the 360 experience.
We had a helicopter flyover of the Vegas strip [that was] so purely an experiential – no narrative, no voice over – just allowing people to feel the sensation of hanging out of a helicopter a couple of hundred feet above the Vegas strip and take all of that in.
Lastly we had a little bit of narrative and a little bit of experiential -- a bartender giving a demonstration of how to create absinthe. That was interesting for us because there was not a lot to engage with in physical space in terms of looking around the restaurant. But there is something about that immersive feeling of that VR content that helped pull people into the content.
Weisler: How would you suggest that advertisers take advantage of the different types of content and the different types of engagement?
Murray: One of the things we mentioned before was, having the ability to freely explore the environment is very engaging for people. But as a content creator you have to still figure out how to tell your story. So one of the ways we found to be very effective is using audio as what we are calling the "new director." You as the creator are no longer directing the experience. Whoever picks up the headset or picks up the tablet, they are now in control of what they see. Audio can be a very powerful way to get people to notice those cues that you really want to make sure that they actually do catch, whether it is characters that are introducing themselves, or whether you are a brand or an advertiser and you are trying to get people to notice a particular product. Using audio language or verbal mentions can be a very powerful way of doing that -- then also using visuals as well, using neuroscience learnings such as eye-tracking. We know that people are drawn to faces. People are drawn to movement. So you don't have to do something like put up a big flashing arrow to say "look over here." You can use the environment in ways that still give people the feeling of their being in control but also guide them through the experience.
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