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The companies have invested in a lab where they will record participants’ biometric reactions to viewing certain advertisements and TV shows in an effort to better understand what viewers like seeing.

Professor JoAnn Sciarrino, a Knight Chair in digital advertising and marketing at the UNC School of Media and Journalism, said this technology opens up new avenues for marketers.

“Advertisers and marketers are using biometric and neuroscience techniques because the traditional methods of surveys and/or focus groups are cognitive-oriented approaches,” she said.

Sciarrino said biometrics function like a lie detector — while one measures heart rate to determine the truth of a statement, the other measures different body characteristics to discover responses to stimuli.

The labs will use infrared cameras to track biometrics like eye movement and facial reactions made while participants, who are hooked up to skin sensors and heart monitors, watch TV.

Three professors from Polish universities, writing for the Journal of Interactive Advertising, said this new technology will work by measuring activity in the brain. The researchers said this activity can guess subjects’ emotions made during brain stimulation.

Ipsos MORI, a United Kingdom marketing research organization, published an online piece claiming this technology can serve as a benefit for marketing groups.

“Biometrics can demonstrate beyond doubt that emotional engagement has occurred, and (it) is unique in its ability to measure intensity of emotional response,” the authors wrote.

According to the article, there is a great deal of information to be gained from biometric analysis — like what elements of an advertisement are more likely to capture viewers’ attention. By examining people’s faces, companies can also observe what objects generate emotional stimulus.

Sciarrino said traditional consumer research methods, which asked respondents for their perceptions, were received from the rational part of the brain while biometrics have the potential to tap into emotional and values portions of the brain.

“Most of our perceptions and decisions are actually rooted in the limbic brain and thus potentially getting closer to understanding those connections are extremely beneficial for marketers,” she said.

Sciarrino said this technology will give better, or more effective, advertising.

“More effective advertising means that the advertising or content will achieve or generate higher levels of intended outcomes,” she said.

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