Dispatches from SXSW Interactive

If SXSW 2017 were to be summarized in one statement, it might be: the future belongs to artificial intelligence. But reports from our intrepid team members who braved the scene in Austin are more nuanced. Cognitive marketing and neuroscience made an impact, yes, but so did the simple human act of mindful tidiness.

Neuroscience: The Future of Market Research

By Nina Van De Steeg

It’s Tuesday night and you just finished enjoying an episode of NBC’s hit new TV show, This Is Us. Or did you?

The Numbers

Research shows that a surprising 65% of people watching TV are distracted by a second device or screen — their eyes fixed on their phones or computers — while a mere 35% are actually paying attention to the show itself. As if our secondary screens aren’t enough to distract us, Ad Blockers are more popular than ever, with 380 million of them on digital devices, and brands are struggling to deliver unified or consistent messaging, resulting in lower engagement levels with consumers and poor recall overall. The message is clear. Now, more than ever, it is important for advertisers to align their brand story and strategy in lock step in order to reach their target consumers.

Enter Neuroscience

That’s where neuroscience comes in. Manuel Garcia-Garcia, the SVP of Research and Innovation at the Agency Research Foundation, and his fellow panelists stress that an increasing number of brands are turning to neuroscience to tap into the minds of their consumers. The goal? To ensure that their messaging is resonating with each consumer. Panelists believe that in the near future, neuroscience will become the new norm in market research studies, measuring brainwaves of consumers to gather true reactions to digital and print campaigns.

Neuroscience in Action

Birds Eye View, a frozen food brand, implemented this tool in order to help save one of their ad campaigns. The brand gathered focus groups and exposed them to two different ads: the first one, a successful one, for their frozen vegetables and the second for their frozen fish products, which was shot almost identically and was unsuccessful. Facial and eye coding tools tracked the consumer’s responses and the reason for success and failure for both ads was quickly made clear. Once the issue was identified for the second ad, which was just simply freezing the frame on a different portion, the ad became an instant success. In using neuroscience to read consumers, it saved Birds Eye View millions of dollars in a wasted commercial and prevented the brand from having to create an entirely new one.

Key Takeaway

As the industry moves toward adopting neuroscience tools, brands will need to invest more time and money into this cutting edge research. Tapping into neuroscience will help brands learn what truly makes their target demographic tick, and in return, allows consumers to personally identify with the brand.

Magic in Tidiness

By Jeff Holman

Defining Joy

One of my first SXSW Sessions, titled Organize the World: Design Your Life to Spark Joy, was presented by Marie Kondo, a Japanese de-cluttering guru who was unknown by me despite her international success. Although her talk spoke to the action of tidying up the home, the philosophy behind the KonMari Method applies to all areas of life. In fact, Kondo began by discussing the inspiration for her life’s work, her grandmother, who was known to “value what cannot be seen from the outside” — a remarkable sentiment for an American creative professional who works in marketing and a timely message for my first day in the overwhelming clutter of SXSW.

Joy as Intentional Design

The goal is clear. If we apply an intentional design to our behind-the-scenes life, we can experience a shift towards more joy. This process is all driven by being deliberate about choosing what matters. Does the thing, person, or action help to uplift you or drag you down? Whether at home or the office, remove that which burdens you (but be sure to express gratitude for what you discard) and only carry that which feels lighter, happier, and more enjoyable.

Intentional Design as Applied to Experiential Marketing

As far as applying mindfulness (mental tidiness) to experiential marketing, I think the key is still focus. It’s natural for people, including our clients, to want everything (which is why books on de-cluttering become best sellers), but a truly joyful experience is only created by being shrewd curators. Committing to one direction makes it easier to work with purpose and process that produces a result worth keeping.

Putting Our Trust in Science

By Drew Pratt

Beyond Focus Groups

In the world of marketing, we spend so much time on focus groups and guided discussions to get a deeper understanding of what our consumers value and trust. This method has always been a proven formula for success, but with the rise of scientific marketing we can leverage these applications to actually “think”, crafting informed decisions based on interacting with human beings.

The Power of Prediction

Scientific marketing (think IBM Watson) proves that companies can now forge relationships and trust with consumers, simply by predicting behavior. As marketers we must embrace engaging with cognitive, especially for the fact that artificial intelligence will know our consumer’s passion points and habits in a span of seconds, which gives us deep insight into our targeted demographics.

Welcome to 2017.