Researchers at Temple University’s Fox School of Business have identified an area of the brain that can significantly better predict the success of TV advertising.
Professors Angelika Dimoka, Paul A. Pavlou and Vinod Venkatraman led the research study at Temple’s Center for Neural Decision Making at the Fox School of Business. The research team received a $286,000 research grant from the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), a non-profit group that provided TV ads from major sponsor companies in the consumer-goods, financial, technology, travel, and pharmaceutical industries.. The study sought to understand whether measures obtained in the lab when a small number of consumers watched these TV ads can predict the success of these ads in terms of increasing sales in the market.
Their research paper recently has been accepted for publication in the Journal for Marketing Research, a top marketing journal. They completed the study in collaboration with researchers from New York University, Duke University and the University of California, Los Angeles, who analyzed available sales and success data from the TV ads.
Fox School’s research team evaluated the responses of more than 300 participants to television advertisements using eight distinct methods: traditional surveys; implicit measures; eye tracking; heart rate; skin conductance; breathing; and brain activity, as measured by fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and EEG (electroencephalography).
“This is the first study to relate individual-level measures in the lab to market-level behavior,” said Venkatraman, lead author and Assistant Professor of Marketing. “We show that physiological and brain responses to a 30-second TV advertisement can provide reliable markers for evaluating its actual success in the market.”
“Based on our research and findings, from all seven neurophysiological methods, brain data collected using fMRI, were the most predictive,” added Angelika Dimoka, Director of the Center for Neural Decision Making, and an Associate Professor of Marketing. Specifically, we are able to show that activation in an area of the brain known as the ventral striatum, the reward center of the brain, can predict a TV ad success. The higher the activation in the ventral striatum, the higher the success of the TV ad. Nobody has ever been able to make such a linkage.”
The findings suggest that a key to a successful TV ad, Venkatraman noted, is the ability to increase the desirability of the product featured in the TV ad – a construct that is difficult to measure through the use of traditional, self-reported measures.
“A researcher might ask a test participant, more traditionally, ‘Do you like this ad? Are you likely to purchase this product?’” said Pavlou, Fox School’s Associate Dean of Research and Chief Research Officer. “While subjective measures like traditional questionnaires can still predict the success of TV advertising, the use of neurophysiological measures, especially fMRI, can almost double the power of our prediction.”
Dimoka, Pavlou and Venkatraman began their research December 2012, after meeting ARF officials at the second Interdisciplinary Symposium on Decision Neuroscience, spo nsored and hosted by the Fox School of Business. They concluded their testing and research six months later.
A research paper authored by a current PhD student at Temple University’s Fox School of Business has earned international acclaim.
Pauline Milwood recently received the Best Paper Award at the second biennial Advances in Destination Management Conference, for her paper titled, “Knowledge, Innovation and the Role of the Destination Management Organization: Integrating Stakeholder and Network Perspectives.”
A PhD student with a concentration in Tourism and Sport, Milwood was honored at the conference, which took place June 11-13, in St. Gallen, Switzerland. She co-authored the paper with her advisor, Dr. Wesley S. Roehl, a professor from Temple’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management.
“It felt extremely gratifying (to be recognized),” Milwood said. “The PhD program is extremely grueling. It kind of makes the thorns and challenges that develop in the process of doing research all worth it in the end.”
The paper integrates stakeholder and network perspectives to examine the role played by destination management organizations (DMOs) in developing competitive advantage. Ultimately, the paper suggests that DMOs should utilize more involvement and collaboration engagement strategies and less control and monitoring engagements strategies to influence successful innovation outcomes among destination partners.
The research has implications for a wide range of entities, according to Milwood.
“The dynamic of government, business, and local residents’ roles comes into play when we’re talking about innovation development of a tourism area,” Milwood said.
In addition to its practical implications, the research enhances the theoretical ideas of network and stakeholder theorists.
“There is benefit to blending theories to better understand both structure and process dynamics of these relationships among public, private and third-sector interests, specifically as it relates to developing innovation in tourism,” Milwood said.
The Journal of Destination Marketing and Management, within which the paper will likely be published, co-sponsored the award.
A PhD student from Temple University’s Fox School of Business proved she can stand out in a crowd. Michelle Andrews received the Best Conference Paper Award at the 2014 American Marketing Association Summer Educator Conference Aug. 2 in San Francisco.
Andrews’ paper, titled, “Using Mobile Technology to Crowdsense,” employed crowdedness as an environmental factor that affects how people respond to mobile advertisements. The study for her research paper, which was co-authored by Xueming Luo, a Professor of Marketing in the Fox School’s Marketing and Supply Chain Management department, was conducted within subway trains.
In the context of a subway train, the measurement of crowdedness – a sometimes-abstract entity in research, Andrews remarks – becomes more precise.
“The reason we chose the subway train context was that it was unique,” said Andrews, who will earn her PhD in Marketing from the Fox School in Spring 2015. “During a subway commute, you’re surrounded by others in a public environment with little to do.”
Andrews, who signed a non-disclosure agreement regarding her research paper, could not specify which specific subway system she used for her research paper, but noted it was located in southeastern China, where, as Andrews pointed out, subways are mobile-equipped. That enabled Andrews and her co-authors to determine the number of mobile users within the specific dimensions of a subway train.
“We predicted crowdedness would increase immersion into mobile devices,” she explained. “We found that in congested trains, purchase rates were significantly higher than in uncongested ones.”
Andrews’ winning paper was co-authored by Zheng Fang, of China’s Sichuan University and Anindya Ghose, of New York University.
Also at the conference, Andrews’ research papers earned two further distinctions. The same paper that received the conference’s overall Best Paper Award also garnered the Best Track Paper Award in the Digital Marketing & Social Media track. Another of her research papers, titled “The Effectiveness of Cause Marketing” received the Best Track Paper Award in the Social Responsibility & Sustainability track.
“Michelle is so hard-working and innovative in her thinking for what’s coming next for the Marketing discipline, and the Best Conference Paper Award recognizes her for that,” Dr. Luo said. “Hopefully, this significant award will be influential, not only for our school but also for marketing on the whole, in demonstrating how to connect with consumers anytime, anywhere.”
The way a brain functions has been a source of human curiosity throughout time. Over the past few decades, researchers have used a number of neuroscience methods including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as a means to achieve a more-thorough understanding of how a human brain works.
The Center for Neural Decision Making (CNDM) at Temple University’s Fox School of Business has been at the forefront of this area, with research focused on integrating information from different methodologies to better understand human decision making.
Prior to the Academy of Management annual meeting, held in Philadelphia, the CNDM co-hosted a workshop with the Technology and Innovation Management group at MTEC, ETH Zurich on July 31 at Temple University. The workshop, titled, “Defining a Role for Neuroscience in Strategic Management,” provided a forum for leading researchers in the field of management to explore the use of methods in cognitive neuroscience in their research., by including both practical demonstration of some methods and presentations about designing and analyzing fMRI studies.
“There’s a lot of potential to improve our fMRI training methods and expand on our current practices. I want to help improve our teaching methodology and explain why it is that we use fMRI,” said Dr. Daniella Laureiro-Martinez, of ETH Zurich. Laureiro-Martinez made the conference’s first presentation, which included discussions about how to design an fMRI study and work within the limitations of the scanning environment.
“People often underestimate the nuances of designing an fMRI experiment,” said Dr. Vinod Venkatraman, an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Fox School of Business and Associate Director of the CNDM. “When dealing with neurophysiological signals, it becomes increasingly difficult to block out the noise and focus on the desired signals. A good experimental design is one that eliminates most prejudices unrelated to the task of primary interest. Because conducting an experiment using fMRI technology is expensive and timely, having a good experiment design could prevent wasting time or money on ineffective studies.”
Despite the fact that fMRI technology has come a long way since its first use in the 1990s, there are improvements that can be made. Crucially, discussions in the conference focused on how these developments can be used to inform research in other areas like strategic management. Discussions also centered on ethical considerations and consequences of neuroscience experiments for managers.
The CNDM team and the Fox School of Business aim to be at the forefront of the area of applied neuroscience, extending findings from basic neuroscience to more applied areas in Business. They are continuing to find new ways to improve how to make study results more palatable and how more can be learned about the human brain and consumer behavior. The ultimate goal is to expand their work in the industry, helping companies understand how and why you would do a study on the human brain.
“Hopefully our future holds more fruitful collaborations with corporations and industry partners, taking our academic knowledge and studies and applying it to their practical use,” said Khoi Vo, Senior Research Associate at the Center for Neural Decision Making. “We hope to provide them with the necessary data, as well as the education and tools to understand and apply it to real-world decisions.”
The 4th Annual Interdisciplinary Symposium on Decision Neuroscience (ISDN) was held at Stanford University in California June 6-7, marking the conference’s first West Coast appearance. Temple University and the Fox School of Business, home to the first three ISDN conferences, was once again the key sponsor for the event.
The conference organizing committee included Drs. Angelika Dimoka and Vinod Venkatraman from Temple University, Dr. Uma Karmarkar from Harvard University, Dr. Baba Shiv from Stanford University, and Dr. Carolyn Yoon from University of Michigan.
A conference specifically catered to researchers and academics interested in decision neuroscience had not existed prior to 2009. That’s when Dr. Dimoka worked with contacts from similar research backgrounds to host the first Interdisciplinary Symposium on Decision Neuroscience.
With a well-attended and successful inaugural conference, organizers decided to host the event annually. Attendees of the ISDN conference included practitioners, researchers and academics across the neuroscience spectrum. The conference offered an opportunity to discuss study results and the best practices in their research work, as well as how to apply their results to clients and practitioners.
The ISDN is unique and aimed at a niche audience. The conference differs from a typical academic conference, at which faculty members simply present their research and receive feedback from other members.
“We invite practitioners to attend, because they are the people who translate the academic findings into solutions for real-world problems and business clients,” said Dr. Venkatraman, assistant professor of Marketing at the Fox School of Business, and co-organizer of the ISDN conferences. “We want practitioners and academic researchers to interact and network at the event, opening up opportunities for fruitful collaborations. The ISDN symposium is also a perfect opportunity for researchers and students interested in the decision neuroscience field to present their recent research findings and receive valuable feedback, as well as to network and form new research partnerships.”
Khoi Vo, a senior research associate at the Center for Neural Decision Making at Temple University, networked with practitioners during the ISDN conference, and discussed potential collaborative research work. Vo presented a paper during the conference on a research project that involved measuring the success of Super Bowl advertisements based on the activity of a consumer’s brain, using results found through fMRI studies.
“Part of my effort at the Center is to foster collaborative efforts with practitioners who are also interested in studying consumer decision making,” Vo said. “From our collaborations with industry, we have generated rich data sets that can provide valuable insights in this field. Though, it will be a challenge to integrate sensitive trade knowledge from industry with our data sets in peer-reviewed publications. Currently, we are in discussions to write up the results for the Super Bowl study.”
Vo also discussed the unique atmosphere of the conference.
“It was fascinating to see the potential research opportunities between academics and practitioners with respect to the research presented at the Symposium,” he said. “For the Super Bowl study that I co-presented with our industry collaborator, we received useful feedback from both academics and practitioners alike. More importantly, both groups were intrigued by our results and impressed that we did not make overstatements with these results. Overall, hearing positive feedback from leading academics and practitioners about our research was a great validation of not only our capabilities and efforts, but also of future collaborations.”
SangSuk Yoon, a Fox School of Business PhD student who works as a research assistant in the Center for Neural Decision Making, has attended the ISDN conference the past two years. Yoon presented a study he had completed with Dr. Venkatraman and Vo, in which they investigated the influences of aging on risky choices and its impact on decision-making.
“We received feedback from researchers in a variety of fields such as psychology, economics, business, and so on, which we’re taking into consideration to continue to develop our study further,” Yoon said.
Yoon, who recently attended an annual psychology conference of a larger scale, said the intimate size of the ISDN allowed for greater discussion.
“The psychology conference is relatively large, and although it allowed me to see studies from diverse fields, I barely had a chance to talk to any of the presenters,” he said. “At the ISDN conference I was able to discuss and share ideas with world-renowned presenters throughout the two days.”
– Diana David
Human beings are constantly engaging the five senses. But how does this sensory experience impact a consumer’s choice behavior?
This question was explored at the Fox School of Business’ first-ever sensory marketing conference, Understanding the Customer’s Sensory Experience. The conference was held on June 5th and 6th, at Alter Hall, home of Temple University’s Fox School of Business and School of Tourism and Hospitality Management.
The conference focused on the nature of the five human senses, their role in affecting consumer behavior and emotion, and their application within a range of settings, including product and service design.
Fox School of Business marketing professor Maureen Morrin and School of Tourism and Hospitality Management professor Daniel Fesenmaier co-hosted the event.
Attendees included marketing and tourism research experts, doctoral students studying within these disciplines, executives of marketing firms, and industry professionals responsible for developing and improving the consumer experience.
“One of the main goals was to bring together both academics and practitioners who are interested in sensory marketing,” Morrin, Director of the Fox School of Business’ Consumer Sensory Innovation Lab, said. “Just getting industry professionals involved and having them see what we’re working on and researching, and to see what their problems are, I think, is helpful.”
At least one conference attendee plans to take advantage of the partnerships the conference established.
“It was extremely stimulating to bring together academics, people from [the] industry and specialists within each category,” Stephen Gould, a marketing professor at Baruch College, said. “As a professor, I plan to follow up with at least one of the industry presenters who I met at the conference.”
The conference was sponsored by the Fox School of Business, the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, and the National Laboratory for Tourism and eCommerce.
Events included a corporate panel led by executives from firms including Mane USA, Scents Marketing, ScentAir, and HCD Research. Another panel, composed of academic research laboratory directors, led discussions on how they established, operate, and fund their laboratories. Numerous research presentations were given, with topics ranging from multisensory processing, to product and packaging development.
Conference attendees left with many new ideas, thanks to the different perspectives offered by the presenters. Adriana Madzharov, of the Stevens Institute of Technology, felt that the combination of research presentations, corporate panels, and research laboratory discussions offered a unique and fulfilling experience.
“The conference presented a perfect combination and balance between these three very different approaches to studying sensory customer experiences,” Madzharov said. “Personally, the amount of knowledge and valuable contacts that I acquired in such a short time during the conference makes it for me the best professional experience so far.”
School of Tourism and Hospitality Management Associate Professor Joel G. Maxcy and University of Oklahoma Department of Health and Exercise Science Lecturer Daniel J. Larson recently published an article titled “The industrial organization of sport coaches: Road cycling as a distinguished case” in the Journal of Sport Management.
The September 2013 paper presents a theoretical model of the organization of the sport coaching industry. It is the first study to show in formal mathematical expressions how coaches are appropriated into the employment settings of sports teams. The model, based on a variety of considered sport characteristics, predicts whether the individual athlete or the sport organization will be the direct employer of coaches. The example of professional cycling coaches is presented at length and offers empirical evidence that is consistent with the model’s predictions. Other sports settings are discussed within the paper as well.
“This work stemmed from my simple observation of the cycling coaching market, where commercially well developed teams hired almost no ‘team’ coaches, and instead the cyclists hired their coaches independently,” Larson said. “When I examined this further, it became clear that there was very little research on the overall industrial organization of coaches, let alone a theory to explain these interesting outcomes.”
Maxcy, who served as Larson’s PhD advisor at the University of Georgia, was eager to lend his expertise to this project. According to Maxcy, who has made numerous contributions in this area, the literature on industrial organization of team-sport leagues and player labor markets is quite well developed in sports economics. Nonetheless, the coaching industry, a significant part of sports, had not been modeled.
“Dan’s experience as a cycling athlete and coach provided a significant intuitive dimension that greatly helped facilitate the formal modeling process,” Maxcy said.
Larson also explained that this research could lead to improved models of the coaching industry as well as empirical tests of the theory. He said that it could be a particularly useful start for examining consulting and external training services in broader industrial settings where coached employees also work within teams.
Maxcy said that a critical contribution of this work is separating the coaches’ roles into trainer and strategist components. “In most sports, one role or the other dominates the coach’s task list, and the integration of the two roles goes a long way in the determination of the employment relationship,” he said.
Larson’s research background is largely comprised of the study of economics and marketing of competitive cycling. These endeavors were preceded by substantial work experience in cycling coaching and international professional cycling team management.
Maxcy has an extensive research background in sport labor relations and industrial organization. His related past publications include articles that have examined issues such as free agency, contract length, and compensation in professional sport.
Seeing is believing, but smellizing – a new term for prompting consumers to imagine the smell of a product – could be the next step toward more effective advertising.
Researchers came to this conclusion through four studies of products most of us would like to smellize: cookies and cake.
Professor of Marketing Maureen Morrin of Temple University’s Fox School of Business co-authored Smellizing Cookies and Salivating: A Focus on Olfactory Imagery to examine the impact imagining what a food smells like would have on consumer behavior.
“Before we started this project, we looked for print ads that asked consumers to imagine the smell of the product, and we found none,” Morrin said. “We think it’s because advertisers don’t think it’ll actually do anything.”
But researchers found that smellizing — imagining a smell —increased consumers’ desire to consume and purchase advertised food products.
Consumers’ response to advertised food products was measured over several studies that looked at the effect of smellizing on salivation, desire and actual food consumption. The researchers found that imagining what a tasty food smells like increases these types of responses only when the consumer also sees a picture of the advertised product.
Participants who looked at print advertisements were prompted by questions such as: Fancy a freshly baked cookie?; Feel like a chocolate cake?; and Feel like a freshly baked cookie? Look for these in a store near you.
Morrin found that these types of headlines had a positive impact on desire to consume the product, if they were accompanied by a call to also imagine the smell of the food. This positive impact was strongest when the image of the product could be seen at the same time study participants imagined the smell.
According to the study, olfactory imagery processing is different from that of the other senses, especially vision.
“It has been shown, for example, that although individuals can discriminate among thousands of different odors and are reasonably good at detecting odors they have smelled before, they are quite poor at identifying the odors they smell,” the study said. “That is, individuals often have difficulty stating just what it is they happen to be smelling at any particular moment, unless they can see the odor referent.”
This may be why a picture is so important in activating the effects of smellizing.
When asked (versus not being asked) to imagine a scent with a visual, participants’ salivation increased by .36 to .39 grams in two of the studies. In another study, when asked to imagine a scent with a visual, participants consumed 5.3 more grams of the advertised cookies. These effects depended on seeing the advertised food while imaging its smell.
The researchers also found that actually smelling the advertised products was even more effective on the various measures of consumer response than merely imagining the smells. But it’s not always feasible to present consumers with product odors in advertisements.
According to Morrin, advertisers are not adequately tapping into the power of the sense of smell when developing promotional messages to encourage consumers to buy their products.
Morrin’s study, co-authored with Aradhna Krishna of the University of Michigan and Eda Sayin of Koç University in Turkey, appears in the Journal of Consumer Research.
The Time Warner Medialab, Innerscope Research and Temple University’s Center for Neural Decision Making (CNDM) at the Fox School of Business have announced the results of a comprehensive study of this year’s Super Bowl ads that reinforced the power of emotion and compelling storytelling.
The research teams used a combination of biometric and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) technologies to monitor viewers’ skin conductance, heart rates, respiration, motion and brain activation to get a more thorough understanding of how consumers reacted to different ads. The findings showed that brands that took audiences on an emotional journey – including Cheerios, Chevrolet, Budweiser and Hyundai – delivered the highest moments of engagement.
“It’s exciting to have the research capabilities to literally go inside the brain of the consumer to find out what’s driving engagement,” said Kristen O’Hara, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Time Warner Global Media Group. “These findings deepen our understanding of consumer behavior, and we will continue to push the boundaries of ad research to ensure that we’re delivering the most effective content to our consumers and our business partners.”
This year’s top-performing ads took viewers on journeys featuring relatable characters in stories that slowly developed. General Mills’ Cheerios told an intimate story of a growing family featuring a daughter who bargains with her father for a new puppy; Hyundai’s “Sixth Sense” commercial took viewers through the relationship between a father and son; Budweiser told a heartwarming story of determination through a puppy trying to meet up with a Clydesdale horse; and Toyota’s “Joyride” ad brought viewers along for a fun ride with the Muppets. The fMRI results validated the initial biometric study’s findings of increased engagement among the top 10 performers, which were announced last week.
“Traditional measures capture aspects of cognition, but advertisers need to know more than what people consciously think about ads,” Innerscope Research Co-founder and Chief Science Officer Dr. Carl Marci said. “In order to go deeper into areas of the brain, you need tools like fMRI that can help you understand the mechanisms that allow ads to break through the clutter.”
The biometrics study was conducted live during the Super Bowl while Innerscope monitored 80 participants to capture fluctuations in heart rate, skin conductance, and breathing patterns at the company’s Media Lab and facilities in Boston and the Time Warner Medialab in New York.
“The biggest challenge here was to conduct a study of academic rigor within an industry timeframe,” said Khoi Vo, senior research associate at CNDM and lead researcher on the fMRI study.
Ads that performed well on biometrics also elicited increased brain activity, relative to ads that performed poorly, in key areas of interest for marketers. These included brain regions associated with emotional relevance (amygdala), memory formation (hippocampus) and executive function (lateral prefrontal cortex).
Among top-performers, ads like those from Cheerios and Volkswagen elicit emotional responses as well as activating two additional regions of the brain commonly associated with valuation and reward – the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and ventral striatum. These areas are consistent with prior work conducted by Temple CNDM in the area of advertising effectiveness research.
“It is exciting to see some consistency across studies, as well as convergence across methodologies – in this case biometrics and fMRI,” said Dr. Angelika Dimoka, director of CNDM. “The Center has been at the forefront of advancing research in consumer neuroscience through its emphasis on strong theoretical frameworks, multi-methodological approaches and convergent validity. Though consumer neuroscience has been criticized in the past for lacking in these aspects, this study moves the needle on all fronts and represents a significant advancement in the field.”
Researchers at Temple University’s Fox School of Business are conducting a comprehensive study to assess to what extent neurophysiological responses and other measures of reactions to advertisements can predict the sales performance of TV ads.
Temple’s Center for Neural Decision Making, based at the Fox School, earned a grant from the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) to evaluate approximately 300 participants’ responses to 35 TV ads from a group of ARF member firms, including major companies in the technology, financial, pharmaceutical and consumer-goods industries. The ARF, founded in 1936, is the premier foundation in the advertising industry for creating and sharing knowledge.
The researchers will employ traditional survey responses and six neurophysiological methods: eye tracking; skin conductance response, which measures arousal; heart rate; breathing; and brain activity as recorded through fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and EEG (electroencephalographs). The research team will then compare its results with an analysis of sales data led by Russell Winer of New York University’s Stern School of Business to see which of the measures did the best job of predicting market performance.
“It’s a great opportunity to compare all these methodologies with each other, which has never been done before,” said Angelika Dimoka, director of the Center for Neural Decision Making and an associate professor of marketing and management information systems (MIS). “We’ll also be able to identify specific points in the 30-second commercials that can help us further understand what drives sales.” Dimoka is leading the study with MIS Professor Paul A. Pavlou and Vinod Venkatraman, an assistant professor of marketing and supply chain management and associate director of the Center for Neural Decision Making.
Jim Thompson, a Fox alumnus and executive-in-residence at the center, facilitated the relationship with the ARF by inviting members of the foundation and other practitioners to participate in the second annual Interdisciplinary Symposium of Decision Neuroscience, held in 2011 at Temple.
“This was a unique conference in that both academics and commercial practitioners attended and participated,” said Thompson, former global president and CEO of Ipsos ASI, a leading advertising research company. “It was the credibility of that conference that facilitated this collaboration, and it clearly established the Center for Neural Decision Making as the leader in bridging scholarly academic research with industry practice.
ARF members that are supporting the project will be able to glean insight from the comprehensiveness of the study, which would likely be cost prohibitive for just one firm to conduct, while also benefitting from the scholarly rigor of it. An advisory board constituted of top academic and industry experts is overseeing each method the center uses, to ensure protocols are designed, executed and analyzed correctly.
“This is a differentiating point for Temple and the Fox School,” Thompson said of the project and the Center for Neural Decision Making. “If companies are doing anything at all with neuroscience or biometrics, Temple could be the first school they think of as a result of this study.” –Brandon Lausch