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Akron Univ. School of Law

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Neuromarketers Score a Win By Using Brain's Response to Magazine Cover Choices

The magazine New Scientist chose its August cover based on tests of three covers by neuromarketers who study the brain's response to products. Did it work? Apparently, yes. The NY Times reports that

Graham Lawton, the deputy editor of the magazine, said in a release last week that the issue had sold 12 percent more than the same issue a year ago, sales “much higher than we would expect for a similar cover story at that time of year, so we would certainly say the experiment was a big success.”

NeuroFocus, a California company, tested three covers prepared by the magazine, using an electroencephalograph machine to measure brain waves of the subjects in the test. It then rated the results on a scale of 1 to 10, based on factors like memory activation and emotional engagement.

A. K. Pradeep, chief executive of NeuroFocus, said a magazine cover was no different than the packaging of a consumer good, something his company regularly tests.

The top-scoring cover had the logo in red (emotionally involving) and a single main image of space (limited distractions) with a curve at the bottom split open to reveal fabric. That split, when combined with the tagline, “Has the fabric of the universe unraveled?” gave a dose of brain candy. Over all, the cover scored 8.2.

When the issue was on the newsstand, Mr. Lawton said he would be interested in testing other parts of the magazine, and acknowledged that any apples-to-apples comparison over an issue from a year prior was difficult to come by, as there were many uncontrollable variables.

Still, he said, “we found this to be tremendously useful. It confirmed some of our hunches.”

It wasn’t too bad for the bottom line, either

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