We continue our look at how the research techniques fall in each quadrant, this week focusing on the upper half.

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Upper Left Quadrant: Experiencer Self/System 1 Thinking

The current level of interest in biometrics and neuroscience is actually the second wave, since researchers as far back as the nineteen-seventies were interested in probing non-verbal reactions to advertising with brain waves etc., before advances in technology made today’s techniques more practical and reliable.

While this set of techniques is quite diverse, they do share a commonality in the instruments they use to measure physical reactions of the Experiencer Self in real time, without any self-reporting of responses from the conscious brain of the respondent—i.e. they are all looking for indicators of unconscious System 1 Thinking occurring while a respondent is viewing an ad.

Upper Right Quadrant: Remembered Self/System 1 Thinking

As online research began to replace telephone surveys in the last decade, the method of tracking consumer awareness of advertising campaigns in-market moved away from recall-based questioning using verbal cues to a recognition-based measurement using visual cues such as video stills or edited clips.

The key idea is that recognition is a better way to retrieve deep memories from the Remembered Self than is recall, which is akin to the argument that a truer test of whether or not you’ve met someone is that you recognize their face rather than their name.

Recognition certainly gives different results than recall and much of the difference in our experience appears to be related to the difference between System 1 and System 2 Thinking–though this is clearly a fruitful area for further research.

From a management standpoint, often times when confronted with discrepancies between ad pretesting and ad tracking results, recognition-based tracking is generally considered to come closest to the “truth.”

And so powerful new forms of online ad tracking are beginning to emerge, such as those provided by the company Communicus, which combines recognition-based measurement with cohort analysis of the target audience. These fresh approaches have the potential to yield very interesting new findings on how different media—TV, digital, print, outdoor, etc.—work together to created branded memories.

In the pre-testing arena, our company Ameritest uses diagnostic picture sorting techniques to probe short-term memories shortly after ad exposure—a technique of deconstructing frame-by-frame the remembered viewer experience of a test ad.

We developed Picture Sorts® to explore the processes of rapid cognition—e.g. pre-conscious filtering or selective attention—involved in watching movies. The many published experiments we have done over the years clearly demonstrate that this is related to System 1 Thinking.

An analogous approach to probing the intersection of rapid cognition and memory is used in the testing of print or digital ads. This Flash test is basically an online version of the classic tachistoscope, or t-scope, where consumer responses are measured after brief, controlled-time exposures of the test ad, for a fraction of a second or a few seconds.

For more information or to request a copy of the full article, please contact Sonya Duran (sonya@ameritest.net)