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Movie Trailers

Predict box office hits

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Main question

Does brain activity predict the next box office hit?

When you say ‘neuromarketing research’, most people imagine brain scans aimed at predicting sales from advertising. But besides advertising, there’s another industry that similarly uses short videos to entice people to act: movies.

Movie trailers provide a particularly fruitful research avenue. While sales data of brands often isn’t readily available, movie ticket sales are just one click to IMDB away. This sparked us to peek into people’s brain activity while they watching movie trailers.

"There's a negative correlation between revenue and self report. The more often people say they'd want to watch the movie, the lower the revenue."

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What a good trailer looks like in the brain

64 participants visited the Unravel Research living room lab to sit back, relax and enjoy some movie trailers – all the while their eye gaze and brain activity was being recorded every millisecond. Our trailer set spanned across many different genres and included both box office hits and flops.

Our collection of trailers (16 in total), consisted of sneak peeks from movies of all genres, from hits to flops. Each participant viewed 6 randomly assigned trailers

Afterwards, we analyzed the predictive power of brain activity on movie sales through a regression analysis. Interestingly, successful trailers spark a very specific pattern of brain activity.

First of all, we found a strong and significant correlation (r = .55) between opening weekend ticket sales and pre-frontal asymmetry, which is a common brain measure of desire. Secondly, we found a strong negative correlation (r = - .63) with cognitive workload. This means that the harder the trailer is to process, the less likely people are to buy a ticket.

Simply put, good movie trailers evoke desire, but don’t make people think too much.

What is the predictive value of self reports?

After viewing the trailer, each participant was asked if they would want to visit the movie. As psychologist, we know that people aren't reliable in predicting their future behavior, but this outcome even suprised us!

We saw a negative correlation (R=-.20) between their answer and revenue of the movie. In other words, the more often people said they'd want to visit the movie, the smaller the chance of them actually buying a ticket is. 

People don't do as they say, and don't say as they do. Which is why we want to look at their brains for truthful answers

Correlatie Survey (-.49) en EEG (.57) met weekendomzet film

Predict box office sales

So… what’s in it for the film industry?

First and foremost, these new insights validate it’s possible to predict box office sales based on neuro trailer research. After controlling for film budget as a variable, brain activity alone is capable of providing a surprisingly precise estimate of opening weekend sales.

This research has uncovered that good trailers evoke desire and are easy to process. EEG brain scans allow us to pinpoint exactly how well future trailers measure on these metrics.

How to make better trailers

In addition to predicting a movie’s box office success, neuro metrics also paint a clear picture of which scenes within the trailer actually work, and which ones don’t. This makes EEG research an interesting tool for production companies that wish to test and optimize their trailers before actually showing them to the public.

For instance, take a look at this video excerpt from the climactic final seconds of the trailer of ‘The Accountant’. De line chart shows the amount of left-frontal alpha asymmetry, a measure of positive approach motivation predictive of sales. Note the clear drop in positive emotion during the “Who are you?” segment, an indicator this particularly shot could better be discarded for something else.

On the positive side, when the rousing music swells into a climax, we see the brain experiences the same pleasant emotion. The trailer closes in silence, while the brain cheers.

Also want to know you've got the best trailer possible?

Take a dive into the brain of the consumer with Unravel Research

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Unravel Research is able to tell you what your client can't by using Eye Tracking and EEG. This way we make your commercials even more effective.

Want to know how your brand can profit from neuromarketing research? Tim will show you how market research will never be the same again!

Tim ZuidgeestContact Tim:
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Pearle

Happy Eyes Commercial

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Core question

How effective is Pearle's latest ad campaign?

Pearle is the leading brand of optician stores in the Netherlands. With the launch of their new Happy Eyes campaign, Pearle completely changed the typical tone that dominates optician commercials.

The Pearle campaign sets itself apart from many category traditions, both in its creative execution and overall visual style. Gone are the typical humoristic vignettes of people who do awkward things because of their bad eyesight. The use of celebrities has vanished as well. Happy Eyes is a campaign that simply celebrates mankind's most complex sensory organ: the eye.

Such a venture into new campaign territory is daunting. Will it delight the target market? Will it pull people into the stores? To answer these questions, Pearle hired neuromarketing agency Unravel to peek into the brains of the bespectacled.

And the results speak for themself. Not only did the neuromarketing research give certainty about their new course, a post-test with the improved commercial scored 64,7% better!

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"The neuro research was extremely valuable. Because our brand movie is all about emotion, we specifically opted for neuro. This ensures we don't get socially desirable answers, but real insights instead."
Ingrid de Jong - Brand Manager Pearle
Screenshot Pearle Happy Eyes commercial

Before the neuro: best practice consult

Unravel joined the creation process early on. This allowed us to consult on the initial concept and storyboard, based on established insights and best practices.

The consultants brought valuable insights to the table, stemming either from academic publications or Unravel's own insights database. These recommendations revolved around elements such as the opening shot, camera movement, editing style, visible emotions and voice-over usage.

With our recommendations, we always stay true to our philosophy that an adjustment should never overthrow a creative concept. Our advice helped to make the ad more attractive, persuasive and memorable – while keeping the core idea vibrant and alive.

Step 1- Predict effectiveness

Overall, 40% of tv commercials does not increase sales. Half of these even cause sales to decline. Our job with neuro is to predict and increase the effectiveness of new campaigns.

During this campaign's neuro study, 20 users of glasses or contact lenses watched the commercial, while EEG and Eye Tracking measured their emotional experience.

Brain activity allows us to predict the direction of sales impact of a commercial by measuring success predictors of approach motivation and cognitive ease. Compared to a benchmark, the commercial scored lightly above average, with an especially strong appeal towards millennial viewers. Great news – sales will increase – but can the commercial get even better? 

Step 2- Increase effectiveness - by a lot

A major advantage of neuro ad tests is that EEG records brain activity many times per second. A scene by scene analysis reveals the performance of each individual shot, allowing for powerful optimization by tweaking the ad's weakpoints. In this case, a specific high-paced sequence of many quickly edited cuts resulted in negative emotion. Also, the introduction of the background music resulted in an averse response.

Based on these clear insights, the final commercial was tweaked on these important details. The editing pace was eased and the background music was changed to a more pleasing tune.

Step 3- Post-test… the verdict

The recommended adjustments to the ad were subtle. Our goal is to tweak the commercial only on those elements that the creative concept allows for. That's what we call data driven creativity. Nonetheless, many times we see that exactly these small adjustments make a big difference in effectiveness. This case is no exception...

In an additional post-test (again with 20 viewers), we saw that the adjustments fulfilled their intended effect. The emotional highlights from the first test remained, while the previous pain points had vanished.

The final commercial scored 64,7% higher on the benchmark than during the pre-test, allowing Pearle to maximize the impact on sales and branding from day one.

Also want to have more impact, certainty and sales with neuromarketing?

Take a look into the brain with Unravel

Let's have a coffee

Unravel Research uses EEG and eye tracking to understand what the consumer won't tell you. This way we increase the impact of your ads.

Curious how your brand can profit from neuromarketing research? Tim loves to show you 5 crucial insights that lay the foundation for a perfect - sales increasing - commercial.

Tim ZuidgeestContact Tim:
+31 30 22 70 410 |
Onze klanten

We mean business with

Read more: Happy Eyes Ad Test

Nutricia Olvarit

YouTube Video Testing

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Core question

Do the Olvarit promo videos appeal to young mothers?

Nutricia faced a tough challenge: while many people associate bottled baby food with artificial additives, their Olvarit product is 100% natural. In order to inform the consumer, Nutricia has set up a YouTube channel with fun and informative videos on infant nutrition. Goal: educating the customer about the natural origin and method of preparation of Olvarit products.

But what does the target market truly feel while watching these videos? What captures their attention? And which parts are better left on the cutting room floor? In order to answer these questions, Unravel Neuromarketing Research conducted a ground-breaking study where they studied brain activity of a group of recent mothers that watched the YouTube content.

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“A beautiful study, with practical advice on how to make our videos and campaigns even better. It also allowed us to get our hands on a couple of ‘golden rules’ on what we absolute should and shouldn’t do in future videos.”
Jelle Rhebergen - Insight Manager Food & Cereals BLX
Screenshot Pearle Happy Eyes commercial

What we looked at

In this neuromarketing video test, we set out to answer two fundamental questions. First, we wanted to know how well the Olvarit videos performed in comparison to a benchmark of other video content. We looked at three fundamental EEG metrics: workload (working memory activation), engagement and desire. Subsequently, we took a more qualitative approach with a content analysis. For each video, we pinpointed the best and least performing scenes with regards to attention and desire.

Neuro Performance

The brain reacted favorably to the video content. The videos were processed more thoroughly in memory and triggered substantially more desire than average videos. The latter is predictive of future purchase decisions. Interestingly, the videos did not activate more attention than other content.

Neuro Based Video Improvements

Overall, the videos do a good job of pleasing the brain. But by extending our analysis with a qualitative scene-by-scene breakdown, we’re able to improve the videos even further.

On a second-by-second basis, we found exactly which scenes performed well, and which ones didn’t. The recurring findings allowed us to further improve future production guidelines on matters such as:
  • Optimizing the first 5 seconds to capture instant attention
  • Consistent triggers of positive emotion (hint: baby close-ups is one of them)
  • Consistent triggers of aversive responses that should be avoided
  • Optimizing the leader
  • Optimizing the closing brand shot
  • Better integrating the brand within the video

    These content-based recommendations were especially valuable and uncovered many eye-opening insights. Nutricia will apply this knowledge during the production of their future videos.

Also want to have more impact, certainty and sales with neuromarketing?

Take a look into the brain with Unravel

Let's have a coffee

Unravel Research uses EEG and eye tracking to understand what the consumer won't tell you. This way we increase the impact of your ads.

Curious how your brand can profit from neuromarketing research? Tim loves to show you 5 crucial insights that lay the foundation for a perfect - sales increasing - commercial.

Tim ZuidgeestContact Tim:
+31 30 22 70 410 |
Onze klanten

We mean business with

Read more: Olvarit Video Testing