Our Brains Sync Up When TV Ads Click

//

No need to tally votes to determine the most popular Super Bowl ads: New research shows an electroencephalography (EEG) sensor can read brainwaves of a small sample of people to determine that a Budweiser commercial featuring a beer-fetching dog will attract more attention than a GoDaddy ad featuring a couple kissing.

“Interesting ads may draw our attention and cause deeper sensory processing of the content,” said Matthew Bezdek, a postdoctoral researcher at Georgia Tech’s School of Psychology.

BLOG: Brainpower: We Use More Than You’d … Think

He and other researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging to find that regions of the brain associated with visual, auditory and attention determine which ads we find engaging.

“When two people watch a video, their brains respond similarly -- but only if the video is engaging,” said senior author Lucas Parra. “Popular shows and commercials draw our attention and make our brainwaves very reliable; the audience is literally ‘in-sync.’”

BLOG: Super Bowl Ads: Astronauts and Space Babies

Those “in-sync” moments predicted — with varying levels of accuracy —  the number of tweets associated with the video as well as ratings from USA Today’s Super Bowl Ad Meter. That beer-fetching dog commercial, for example, was rated the second favorite of 2012, whereas the GoDaddy ad was ranked among the worst. And, instead of polling thousands, the researchers analayzed the brainwaves of only 16 individuals in their study published in the journal Nature Communications.

The researchers plan to investigate whether similar methods could be used to diagnose neurological disorders such as attention deficit disorder or mild cognitive decline.