UCL launches neuromarketing course
Neuromarketing (sometimes called consumer neuroscience) has become a hot topic in recent years.
16 August 2017
However, what it can and can't measure is often clouded in hype, and some marketing agencies may be exaggerating what they can do in this field. UCL's new neuromarketing workshop aims.
Many market research and advertising agencies don't use neuroscience techniques routinely so they lack an in-depth understanding of how these techniques really work. They may employ neuromarketing agencies to help them measure the effects of their advertising, or their clients may ask for their opinion on neuromarketing.
Dr Joe Devlin and John Hogan (from UCL's Department of Experimental Psychology) work and carry out research in neuroscience. Joe is a leading researcher in neuroimaging and language processing and John is currently completing a PhD in neuroscience. They found they were regularly being approached by companies asking about the truth behind neuromarketing.
Dr Devlin says "There's much confusion and misinformation regarding neuromarketing in what it can achieve and measure, and there's a lot of 'bad science' being promoted in the hype surrounding it. We realised there was a real need to educate the players in this market.
As an academic, I felt quite strongly about how the hype and bad science being promoted was potentially damaging neuroscience. We reached out to marketing agencies as they're huge consumers and influencers, but have many misconceptions about the reality behind it. We hope that in educating these major players, we can eventually reduce the amount of bad science being promoted, which is wasting people's time and money and developing misunderstanding of what neuroscience can achieve."
UCL's solution to the problem of misinformation
Agencies need information from a reliable scientific source so they can assess whether neuromarketing is something they should invest in, advise their clients correctly and identify trustworthy partners to help them deliver. Joe and John decided they needed a way to streamline all the enquiries they were receiving and create a solution to educate the marketing industry.
They approached UCL Consultants and worked with Björn Christianson in developing a workshop that would be offered as a bespoke training solution for targeted agencies. Björn gave them support and advice on optimising the commercial aspects of the workshop and helped them to get it off the ground. With this advice, and with support from UCL Life Learning including costing and marketing, Joe and John were able to design a course that met their audience's needs, rather than just presenting their knowledge from an academic perspective, and to do so in a commercially viable way.
The workshop explores the capabilities and limitations of neuroscience in the field of marketing and assesses the options available: separating fact from fiction. It covers some of the credible research that's been conducted and explores its limitations. The one-day course is a mix of theory and practical sessions and looks at the technology available, giving marketing agencies the opportunity to really explore the subject. A particularly tangible way of understanding the science is provided by scanning a workshop participant in a UCL fMRI scanner - something that's proved very popular with those attending the course.
Giving the industry the honest scientific opinions it needs
The course allows a very honest look at the capabilities, complexities and limitations of this kind of science, without any marketing spin. Will Headley, Senior Director of BrainJuicer, a market research agency who attended the workshop, commented:
"I was pleasantly surprised about how open and honest it was. Our clients, and other people, can be wowed by neuroscience and neuromarketing. It's a very powerful technology and clients want 'to do some neuro' because its glamorous, exciting and interesting, but as a tool for prediction it's still at the early stages and incredibly complicated and expensive to do properly. Standing next to the MRI kit you understand why it's so expensive, hard and slow: its not an easy thing to do and you don't know exactly what the participants are thinking or feeling as it's very complicated.
The knowledge we gained from this course has given us more confidence in the advice we give and eliminated the doubts we had. It's definitely added to our [...] credibility, and being able to reference UCL expertise has been central to that."
Joe and John are now continuing to work closely with UCL Consultants and UCL Short Courses to further develop the current courses on offer.
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