Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Science over creativity. Again.

In Sunday's New York Times there was a fairly large article called "Lab Watches Web Surfers to See Which Ads Work".
It's a story of a Disney-owned research center that tracks eye movement, uses heart-rate monitors, skin temperatures and, via probes attached to facial muscles, facial expressions. All of it is an attempt (once again) to sciencify how people respond to ads so networks or networks of networks, like Disney, can wrest more of the web's advertising dollars for their coffers. It is estimated by eMarketer that web advertising revenue will grow from $25 billion this year to $37 billion in 2013.

Oy vey iz mir, as my Puerto Rican friends like to say. This is yet another attempt to learn the rules that will causally lead to marketing or programming success. No such rules exist, they never have and they never will. My belief is that research such as this is a lot like bug spray or a flu shot. It will work for a while and under certain conditions, but eventually adjustments are made that render the formula ineffective. That's just life, ok?

Since Gilgamesh which was written around 4,200 years ago, or the Iliad which was written about 2,800 years ago, the central precepts of communication have not changed. They won't change any time soon.

So wire us up. Watch us watching things. And draw your expensive conclusions. It's as easy to ignore science as it is to ignore a boring ad.

1 comment:

Teenie said...

We've got clients that score concepts tested in focus groups, then re-score them after they're shot. They still can't believe the numbers don't match.

I guess they think there's a mathematical formula for good creative.