Brainwave Measurement Will Reveal True Superbowl-Winning Ad At Dx3 2015

February 6, 2015 Ben Myers


“A lot of people are talking about who won the Superbowl,” said Matt Di Paola, Managing Director, Digital Innovation at SID LEE.

He’s not talking about the controversial passing play that effectively turned the Seattle Seahawks from comeback champions to what-were-they-thinking losers. Di Paola didn’t even watch the game on Sunday.

Superbowl XLIX (and advertising sideshow) drew a double record 114 million American viewers and 9.2 million Canadians.


Matt Di Paola is Managing Director, Digital Innovation at SID LEE and Curator of The Creative Brain.

Di Paola is far more interested in the Superbowl ads. When an advertiser bets millions of dollars on 30 seconds of creative, and an agency stakes their reputation on it, it would be nice to know which ad was better than another.

The answer, however, is locked inside the brains of the audience, and advertisers need a better way of getting to it.

“We’re not asking people. The brain doesn’t lie.”

“Clients would always ask the question, ‘How is my creative performing?’” said Kevin Keane, co-founder at neural measurement technology company Brainsights.

Outside of Twitter reactions, advertisers rely on classic Mad Men practices like surveys and focus groups to find out if an ad achieved its goal of influencing consumer behaviour.

Keane knows that the flaws inherent in surveys and focus groups can lead to inaccurate results.

“There’s a whole bunch of research in consumer psychology and neuroscience and behavioural economics that’s actually saying this is a highly inappropriate way to be evaluating things that are meant to be driving an emotional response,” he said.

Together, Di Paola and Keane are bringing the content and technology to The Creative Brain show floor feature at Dx3 2015, available to all free and paid visitors.

brainsights logoThe Creative Brain will use Dx3 visitors’ brains and electroencephalography (EEG) headsets to rate the emotional response of both Canadian and global ads that were aired during the Superbowl.

This will use Brainsights ACE (Attention, Connection, Encoding) rating system to evaluate the audience’s awareness, emotional response and memorability of each ad.

“If an ad forces you to pay attention to it, and then as a result, it drives that deeper connection and it encodes to memory quite a bit… you know that ad has performed well,” Keane said.

“In focus groups, people will answer what they think people want to hear.”

Unlike focus groups, these reactions come directly from the brain and are immune to social filtering. Keane enjoys the fact that EEG provides second-to-second feedback, evaluating the product reveal, pricing and feature messaging.

“When those messages or scenes and images are on screen, what’s the associated subconscious response?”

The EEG provides second-to-second feedback on not only the creative as a whole, but key structural components of the ad that memory may gloss over.

“In focus groups, people will answer what they think people want to hear, or what they think of themselves, versus how they are actually reacting,” Di Paola said. “There’s a lot of nuances in how our brains work that we aren’t even aware of. [EEG is] where more traditional focus group testing can be verified.”

Knowing the brain’s true reaction to ads is something that Di Paola and SID LEE, the creative brains behind the Toronto Raptors and Absolut Vodka, are intrigued by.

“We’re getting at the actual emotional drivers of advertising.”

“It is something that you’re curious and fearful of,” Di Paola said.

Keane is excited to reveal the underlying reactions that determine an ad’s effectiveness and ultimately increase a brand’s stature in consumers’ minds.

“We’re getting at the actual emotional drivers of advertising,” Keane said. “We’re not asking people. The brain doesn’t lie.”

The Creative Brain is open to all Dx3 2015 visitors on March 11 – 12 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

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