Why wait for a campaign to go live before you measure its success? With Engagement Insights, a new approach to creative image production underpinned by the latest in neuroscience, Saddington Baynes can help optimize a campaign in line with consumer emotion before it even goes live.

It’s long been established that ad campaigns with an emotional hook outperform those underpinned by logical thinking – sometimes two-to-one.

The reason why is simple: we’re emotional beings. Advertising that systematically seeks out to rationalize value doesn’t strike that deeper emotional chord, and as such, is often ignored. Advertising that digs a little deeper into the group psyche, playing on our desires before we’re even conscious we have them, is what results in the greater success.

That deeper, implicit strand of emotional thinking can be very difficult to reach – unless you have a thorough understanding of neuroscience.

Engagement Insights

With Engagement Insights, the new initiative from production studio Saddington Baynes and globally renowned neuromarketing consultancy NeuroStrata, there is now a way to tap into those attributes that impulsively sell an image to a viewer, and with it, a level of campaign perception unprecedented in the image production field.

According to Saddington Baynes CEO Chris Christodoulou, “This isn’t about eye tracking, facial recognition, or focus groups – where the rational brain is engaged in responding to direct questions – so answers are unavoidably distorted by outside influences. Engagement Insights is about implicit, non-conscious insight – getting the answers people don’t even know they’re giving. The pure data.”

Creatively, Engagement Insights offers a holistic overview of the emotional aesthetics preferred by large groups of people; practically, it gives brands a way to measure the emotional impact and potential success of a multi-million dollar campaign during production – and before it’s launched.

Augmented intuition

Engagement Insights provides brands with what NeuroStrata consultant Thom Noble terms “augmented intuition” – essentially, statistics that reinforce a gut feeling as to why a certain image might outperform another once it has launched.

“At its foundation, Engagement Insights comprises a versatile test based on two psychological principles,” explains Noble. “There’s the notion of priming; that when we are exposed to something – like an image – the things we associate with it come to the front of our minds.

Secondly, there is the interference effect in reaction times: if you’re shown two things that are different, your reaction times on a task can be briefly slowed down compared to if you’re shown two things that are similar. These two effects are systematically used in our testing to measure the emotions, feelings, and concepts that people are automatically associating with an image.”

The test’s speed, rhythmic nature, and apparent contradiction in terminology and imagery produce an implicit response from the user, measuring automatic connections between image and emotional response in an essentially non-cheatable manner – users cannot consciously prepare for their answer.

The results are passed on to the neuromarketing team, where statistical analysis is performed. “We use the aggregated results to show the different degrees of emotional response to an image,” says Noble. “That allows us to build a vocabulary for a brand, determining what works and what doesn’t before full production has concluded.”

Stories within statistics

“Using Engagement Insights gets you thinking about design on a completely different level,” says James Digby-Jones, executive creative director at Saddington Baynes. “It might mean finding that your gut is backed up by the science, or the opposite: discovering that traditional assumptions are actually false.”

For instance, Saddington Baynes found interesting results regarding the direction in which a vehicle was facing: “In automotive imagery, the typical assumption is that giving the front three-quarters of a car prominence means an image tends to perform better,” continues Digby-Jones. “However, it’s likely that we’ve come to assume that’s the best angle as we see it all the time in marketing imagery: we’re primed to react to it in a certain way. With implicit testing, the results demonstrated that, for some models tested, it was actually the rear three-quarters of a car that incited a more positive reaction.

Engendering confidence

Using its database of continually growing, evolving data, Saddington Baynes is now able to provide a level of authority that can steer a campaign from the offset. “In an industry where many of the money decisions are made by left-brained people, Engagement Insights is invaluable,” says Christodoulou. “We can go to marketing teams and say, ‘You may want to rethink your flagship’s launch color because the science says it’s not the best choice’. It’s a way of giving that deeper insight into what they’re sending out into the world before they send it.”

The next step

Engagement Insights is now a two-year-old project, and the logistics are nailed. Via a robust setup and approach, Saddington Baynes can swiftly implement Engagement Insights during any stage in a project’s lifecycle, offering the client insight through quick, exploratory testing.

“And it’s not just going by the gut anymore,” Christodoulou concludes. “We’re not just creating beautiful imagery; we’re creating it in a way that we know works, and we know why it works. It’s the cross-section of art and science, and we’ve only just scratched the surface.”

Saddington Baynes invites you to find out about Engagement Insights.