A New, Neuroscience-Based Study Says Beyoncè Is Your Ad’s Best Friend

By Christine Champagne

By studying the brains of viewers, Vevo sets out to prove that advertising associated with music videos is more impactful than ads served up via online TV and traditional TV programming. Music videos rank above online TV and traditional TV when it comes to viewers remembering and connecting with the ads accompanying the programming, and that’s because people feel a more intense emotional connection to music videos. At least according to Vevo’s Music Video vs. TV Neuroscience Research Study, conducted in partnership with Universal McCann.

Skeptics will be, well, skeptical given that Vevo is a digital music video distributor. But the company points out that the research was conducted by an outside firm, Neuro-Insight, a marketing research company that specializes in using brain-imaging technology to measure how the brain responds to various forms of communication. The study marks the first time that Vevo has delved into neuroscience research. Why the decision to tap into viewers’ brains for information?

“When we’ve asked people about music videos in interviews, they tell stories, they smile, sigh, laugh, lean back and reflect,” says Vevo’s Stephanie Fried, vice president, Research Insights and Analytics, noting, “This type of connection is impossible to measure using traditional methods. A survey question about how much you like or dislike music videos is too superficial to yield the deep insights we’re looking for.”

Using a brain-imaging technology known as Steady State Topography, Neuro-Insight wired the noggins of 100 study participants and recorded data from the areas of their brains that relate to everything from like and dislike to attention to detail to emotional intensity while the subjects viewed music videos from the likes of Beyoncé, Skrillex, and Nirvana and TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, The Big Bang Theory, and New Girl as well as the advertising inserted within all of the aforementioned programming.

The participants were made up of U.S. residents ages 15 to 35, divided evenly between the sexes. Music videos scored higher than online TV and traditional TV in terms of emotional intensity. Online TV actually scored the highest on engagement. But music videos were ranked highest when it came to memory encoding–that’s the storing and recalling of information in the brain–of the ads played alongside them, and “long-term memory encoding, a key measurement in neuroscience research, has been shown to be a leading indicator of marketing success,” according to Fried.

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