Neuro-Design: Optimizing Creative Work With Neuroscience

Christina Luppi
Sr. Manager of Marketing

There exists a tension between art and science, between creative and research. But what if the two could work together? What if neuroscience, for example, could move out of the lab and into a studio? What if true implicit research could optimize creative work?

It can, as Sentient’s Aaron Reid and NeuroStrata’s Thom Noble found out.

The pair presented the idea, “Neuro-Design Optimization for Creative Agencies,” at 2016’s Neuromarketing World Forum, and they did so through the story of Saddington Baynes. You can view Dr. Reid’s slides here:

Baynes is a London agency “with a deep-rooted passion for the power of emotive imagery,” explained Noble. But it was their devotion to design effectiveness that lead them to NeuroStrata. Baynes CEO Chris Christodoulou and ECD James Digby-Jones felt visual saliency standout tools could help their creative buyers get noticed. They were asking for neuroscience: measuring emotional, non-conscious responses for optimizing creative work in progress.

Enter Sentient Prime

Automatic, irrepressible cognition is at the heart of our implicit research technology, Sentient Prime. How does it work? When you’re primed with an image or a word or a sound or a scent, something happens automatically for you in your mind. The associations you have with that prime become accessible and influence your behavior toward or away from that stimulus. Implicit association testing works on this basic principle of priming and response time.

But while it’s easy to see this work in ad testing, perhaps it’s harder to imagine how Sentient Prime might optimize a creative work in progress.

Saddington Baynes used creative assets as primes, such as lighting, background color, angles, and variance.

“All these different visual ingredients show through in the implicit testing,” Christodoulou said in a video interview. “They all have a bearing on the emotional reaction, so we use it at key crossroad points of a campaign in terms of the image production where we’re making some of those creative decisions.”

Putting Implicit Insights to the Test

One such decision point came in a sneaker ad campaign. The images tested, of a sneaker and a jellyfish, were identical in design and structure. The only difference was the color, orange versus blue, of those elements.

“The results that we got were quite striking,” Christodoulou noted. “When we tested emotional attribute scores men were actually desiring the shoe more than women were, which wasn’t something that any focus group would tell you.  They also felt it was more premium and they felt the blue shoe was more beautiful and more trusted.

“I think seeing the results on stuff like that purely based on color alone […] was a real revelation for us.”

And Make It Quick

Baynes considered highly-automated technology another key need. Their projects often have quick turnaround times that can’t be held up for research. Baynes will often test early stage creative on Monday and get non-conscious feedback on Tuesday to inform their end-of-week deliverables. Again, Sentient Prime fit the bill.

Reid noted that a scientifically valid test can be set up in under five minutes: “It’s global, it’s mobile; it’s true implicit.”

For Saddington Baynes, the upside is enormous. The company now regularly uses creative asset testing for individual campaigns and does not plan to stop there.

“What’s going to be exciting is… we’re going to be building up a database of images for hundreds and hundreds of different ad campaigns where we’ll be able to dive in and look for trends, look for insights,” said Digby-Jones. “It’s going to be a real valuable resource and set of insights we can bring our clients.”





Sentient Prime Implicit Research Studies




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