Imagine the following scenario…
You and a friend go to a movie. It is a movie you both enjoy, but toward the end of the movie the person next to you gets a call on their cell that they proceed to answer! Their loud conversation interrupts the movie and irritates everyone around them.
When you think back on that night, how would your memory of the evening be affected?

The answer lies in understanding the difference between the Experiencer Self and the Remembered Self. This answer can also be applied to the field of Advertising Research.

The multitude of choices available today in the field of advertising research can be confusing. Most of us are familiar with the standard ad quality metrics for predicting sales using measures such as recall and persuasion, attention and brand linkage, message communication, and brand preference. However, there is now a whole host of competing scientific techniques that require measurements of brain waves, brain image scans, facial response, eye tracking, heart rate and skin conductance, response latency, etc., that claim to reveal how advertising exerts its hidden power on the unconscious mind.

This new competitiveness in an important category of research is driven not only by advances in technology, but also by the current popularity of the new sciences of the mind. It also represents a challenge to marketers and researchers to reconsider the standard mental models that we use to think about how advertising works.

Fortuitously, a recent book by a Nobel Prize winning economist points toward a new framework for understanding advertising.  Daniel Kahneman won his prize based on research on another important marketing variable, price, but in his new best seller Thinking Fast and Slow, he summarizes his life’s work on economic decision-making with psychological concepts that can also stretch the way we think about the role advertising plays in economic decisions.

In the first part of his book, he describes in detail the differences between two distinct systems that the mind uses to process information and make decisions about the world. In the second part of his book, he explains the important differences between experience and our memory of an experience—an important insight for understanding the mental processes by which advertising experiences are turned into branded memories.

As we will see in the coming weeks, by putting together the theoretical constructs from the first and second parts of Kahneman’s book, we can create a simple matrix that provides a powerful organizational framework for understanding how all of the new ideas and methods that are revolutionizing the field of advertising research might fit together.

Stay tuned for part 2 of Completing the Picture…

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