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Through a glass, darkly

The current state of neuromarketing

by James Forr
“You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted, but mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?”
- Dr. Seuss

In a recent presentation, I referred to neuromarketing as the Wild West of market research.

This is not to say that these methodologies lack promise. It is not to say that these methodologies don’t have value. It is not to say that the people employing these methodologies are intentionally misleading anyone. However, it is to say that the hype is a little further along than the current state of the art.

This opinion is buttressed by an article in the June 2015 Journal of Advertising Research entitled, “How Reliable are Neuromarketers’ Measures of Advertising Effectiveness?” The answer to that question is, “Not very reliable at all.” The research revealed that vendors operated within black boxes, failed to agree on the definitions of basic terminology, and could come nowhere close to a consensus as to whether an ad was good, bad, or something in between.


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Why Olson Zaltman? Because we listen. When you listen—and think deeply about what you hear—the possibilities are endless.

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