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Neuromarketers Pick the Brains of Consumers 166

Posted by Soulskill
from the ask-me-no-questions-and-i'll-tell-you-no-lies dept.
Pickens points out a story at The Guardian about the development of neuromarketing, the method by which advertisers track signals inside the brain to roughly extrapolate how a consumer reacts to products and advertisements. We've discussed this technique in the past, but now consulting firms are appearing who have begun to use this research to increase the effectiveness of their marketing practices. The author also notes a paper which elaborates on the scientific details (PDF). "At McLean Hospital, a prestigious psychiatric institution run by Harvard University, an advertising agency recently sponsored an experiment in which the brains of half-a-dozen young whiskey drinkers were scanned. The goal, according to a report in Business Week, was 'to gauge the emotional power of various images, including college kids drinking cocktails on spring break, twentysomethings with flasks around a campfire, and older guys at a swanky bar'. The results were used to fine-tune an ad campaign for the maker of Jack Daniels."
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Neuromarketers Pick the Brains of Consumers

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  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:06PM (#22959716)
    but it probably should be.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by blueadept1 (844312)
      Are you one of those people who thinks marketers are evil and make you buy things you don't want? Their objective is to provide you with information that makes you want their product - a need already exists ("I need social acceptance" - or something along those lines). With this research, the marketers are merely helping you fulfill this need by pushing past other products' attempts to get you to purchase them. I see nothing remotely illegal or unethical about this. If the subjects are doing this on their o
      • by Cecil (37810) on Friday April 04, 2008 @12:57AM (#22960418) Homepage
        I think marketers are annoying because they tell me to buy things I don't want. It's not the buying that bothers me, because it never happens. It's the telling. Over, and over, and over, without providing me a way to say "NO!"

        You said it perfectly right here: "marketers are merely helping you fulfill this need by pushing past other products' attempts to get you to purchase them."

        This is the crux of the problem, because it belies a conceit that marketers have: that their product is a better choice than all competitors for their entire target group. This is unspeakably arrogant for starters, and unbelievably annoying when, naturally, every marketer believes this about their product, so you get 100 products all arrogantly claiming to be the right choice for me and in all likelihood drowning out the one choice that is in fact right for me, which in my case is almost never the one with the biggest pockets.
        • by kalirion (728907)
          This is the crux of the problem, because it belies a conceit that marketers have: that their product is a better choice than all competitors for their entire target group.

          What makes you think marketers fall for their own lies?
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by easyTree (1042254)

        Their objective is to provide you with information that makes you want their product..

        Their objective _should_ be to 'open your eyes' and allow you to see that you need their product rather than use psychological techniques to alter your needs so that you want their product - (not so) subtle difference.

        I see nothing remotely illegal or unethical about this.

        It's a shame you don't see a problem; Luckily for me, I do.

        ..by pushing past other products' attempts..

        The marketing for the truly worthy products will have us walk past other products to buy the one true pr

      • by Omestes (471991) <omestes @ g m a il.com> on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:04AM (#22960870) Homepage Journal
        ...a need already exists ("I need social acceptance" - or something along those lines). With this research, the marketers are merely helping you fulfill this need by pushing past other products' attempts to get you to purchase them.

        Thats the point, the need they exploit has nothing to do with the product they sell. Budweiser doesn't make me more popular with the ladies, nor the life of the party (unless the lady is a urinal, and the party is the hopping mens room culture). Car X doesn't make me a sexy, rich, race car driver. Nikes and Gatorade don't make me any less of a nonathletic geek. And the last time I drank a liquor that was advertised I didn't get suave, unless suave really means rowdy, sweaty, and hitting on fat chicks.

        Advertising usually goes for cheap psychological gimmicks, rather than actually explaining why Pepsi is better than Coke, or telling me why a crappy plastic mop is better than the one I own.

        In short, they lie. Advertising is just manipulation, and I, for one, do not like to be manipulated. If advertising actually told me WHY I need the product, I might be convinced, giving a genuine need.

        Also I think there is a backlash because it is EVERYWHERE. You can't escape it, EVER. Every bus (school, or public), every show, every game, every webpage, the sky, the roads, etc... all deluge us constantly with the same cheap psychological gimmicks. They are tacky, ugly, and distractive (the latter being the goal).

        They also lead to a superficial culture, since people actually buy into them. I once knew a girl who had a Nike "swoosh" tattooed on her arm, and a Calvin pissing on a Chevy logo on her truck. I asked her why. She told me that she agreed with what Nike stood for (crappy over-priced tennis shoes mad in asian sweatshops?), and that anyone who didn't like Ford was a pussy. We are bombarded with these stupid images so much that they HAVE TO influence our psychology, self, and culture. Its another step away from reality. Branding isn't real. /rant
      • by foobsr (693224) on Friday April 04, 2008 @06:08AM (#22961384) Homepage Journal
        Their objective is to provide you with information that makes you want their product ...

        In my days, the objective of marketing was to boost profits, and the ultimate wet dream was to find a means to make people addicted.

        CC.
      • You lie. You do not provide true information about a product, you provide lies designed to appeal to people subconscious and their baser needs. Does drinking one brand of beer over another give you more social acceptance? Really?

        Your life's work is worse than a waste of time. You could be doing something useful, providing actual value, helping make people's lives better. But despite the lies you tell yourself, you are not.

        You are engaged in mind control. You know full well that 'free will' is bullshit. Your
      • by ch-chuck (9622)
        I've heard that marketing is the world's 2nd oldest profession.

    • by jo42 (227475)
      "Get Out Of My Brain!"
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by eggnoglatte (1047660)
        Huh? I must have missed the part where the subjects were forced to participate.
    • by ushering05401 (1086795) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:01PM (#22959992) Journal
      The only probable result is that marketing campaigns will seem even more boorish and annoying to demographic outliers as the campaigns become tuned to the desires of core members of the target demographic.

      No skin off my back... I haven't actually paid attention to a commercial for years, and I only read print ads that are in scientific and tech related publications.

      While on the subject, I have often thought it would be nice if ads were filled with enough technical data about a product to perform a comparative evaluation against similar product ads. I doubt that will ever happen, though.
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        by enough technical data you mean more naked women?
      • by Selanit (192811) on Friday April 04, 2008 @12:32AM (#22960342)

        No skin off my back... I haven't actually paid attention to a commercial for years, and I only read print ads that are in scientific and tech related publications.

        Interesting. I'm sure the marketers are pleased. The less conscious you are of their message, the less capable you are of resisting it.

        • by Omestes (471991)
          I'm guessing that prolonged exposure eventually leads to complete ignorance of them. Especially if your smart, or have had basic training in rhetorical/persuasion techniques.

          I keep a book by the sofa that I read every time a commercial comes on. Often I walk out of the room and go pet my cat, or answer an email when a commercial break comes on. Often my roommate comments on a commercial that was just on, and I have no clue what they are talking about. 30 years of them have rather dulled the novelty, and
      • I find this sort of methodology quite disturbing when I imagine it used in political campaigns. In fact, I suspect it is already being used.

      • No skin off my back... I haven't actually paid attention to a commercial for years,

        Then you've missed a lot of entertainment, most of the time the ads during the Super Bowl are better than the game.

        and I only read print ads that are in scientific and tech related publications.

        If you're so against advertisement why do you read them... *gasp* because they are about products you're interested in. Just because your interests differ from the masses and mainstream advertising doesn't appeal to you, don't try t

  • by QuantumFTL (197300) <justin.wickNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:08PM (#22959728)
    This is similar to a major plot device in Neal Stephenson's Interface [amazon.com] (don't worry, no referral).

    In the book the people backing the lead character's bid for the presidency have a virtual "focus group" of people across the nation that watch his speeches. They are able to make adjustments to the speeches in real time by monitoring the reactions of the focus group's vitals.

    I, for one, think that truth is not only stranger than fiction, but quickly becoming creepier as well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by QuantumG (50515) *
      Attributing that book to Neal Stephenson is like attributing Back To The Future to Steven Spielberg.
    • Although the first thing that came to my mind when reading this was "what a pity that Philip K. Dick isn't alive today to see truth slowly but surely becoming stranger than fiction..."

      Good point about it getting creepier as well!
    • by jamesh (87723)

      I, for one, think that truth is not only stranger than fiction, but quickly becoming creepier as well.

      Seems like cheating doesn't it? I don't see how it could ever be ruled illegal, unless you are monitoring viewers brainwaves when they haven't consented to it.

      The only way around it is to educate the public on how to tell when they are being manipulated by this sort of marketing technique, eg the phrases and other tricks that are used to trick your brain into believing or wanting something which you otherwi

  • So, how will these marketing shrills handle the reactions when people start getting violently angry about these techniques?
    • by relikx (1266746)
      The proletariat will be too busy watching American Idol to care. There are many ways to quell fears with truth, lies, and advertising and I have a sinking suspicion that the public will happily lap up these responses and go back to self-loathing. Remember, marketers are only doing this to make you happier and your life better...
    • They will start looking out the window for flying pigs.

  • Banks use it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Max von H. (19283) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:17PM (#22959780) Homepage
    Until a few months ago, I was working for a finance training institute. One of the courses was teaching neuromarketing techniques to bankers, specifically in the way it's used to 'sell' certain kind of less-than-stellar banking products *cough* subprime loans *cough*.

    Seems to be working...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    and just employ hypnotists to force people to buy your crappy products god forbid that a product would be sold on its genuine merits advertising really is one of the nastiest traits of "capitalism" (if you can call it that at this point)
    • by QuantumG (50515) *
      If there ever was a product that is justified to use "if you buy our product, attractive women will sleep with you" then it is alcohol.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      ...and just employ hypnotists to force people to buy your crappy products. God forbid that a product would be sold on its genuine merits. Advertising really is one of the nastiest traits of "capitalism" (if you can call it that at this point)

      Remember - before you bitch too much about capitalism - that complaining about people subtly influencing your choice means that you have a choice. Sure it's nasty,sleazy, distastful, etc, but it is an inevitable side effect of you having a large amount of freedom about how you live your life and them having free speech.
      Compare it to the other economic/political structures where one or both freedoms are missing.

      • by ishark (245915)

        Compare it to the other economic/political structures where one or both freedoms are missing.

        They are the same. In both cases you have a social system which encourages predatory behavior towards its own members, something which tends not to be a great strategy if you want long-term stability. As a matter of fact, the other economic/political structures you refer to aren't faring too well right now, but this does not mean capitalism works well, only that it takes longer since exploiting it is more compl

    • by kalirion (728907)
      Because people might get suspicious when they see a spinning watch on the screen and hear the words "you are getting sleepy"?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "I thought I'd pick your brain 'cuz your nose was far too easy!"
  • Cue the chorus... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DeepHurtn! (773713) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:43PM (#22959906)
    ...of people who believe advertising doesn't affect them. Why would such incredible sums be spent on it if it were ineffective? Advertising is the most pervasive system of propaganda ever developed, and to pretend it doesn't affect us -- all of us -- is to bury one's head in the sand.

    More than to brainwash us to buy individual products, the main work that advertising performs is to condition our basic assumptions about how we as individuals relate to other individuals and objects. Almost all ads say similar things to us; things like that freedom can be reduced to that of the marketplace, that our individuality is defined by our consumption choices, that we are always, always lacking *something* in ourselves but that happiness and completeness are only a purchase away...

    And no, I'm not trying to deny the influence our marketing-saturated world has had on *me*. I just resent it, and the marketeers who helped create such a system.

    • by iamhigh (1252742)

      We are not productive anymore, they don't need us to make things anymore, it's all automated. What are we for then? We're consumers. Okay, buy a lot of stuff, you're a good citizen. But if you don't buy a lot of stuff, you know what? You're mentally ill! That's a fact!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DaedalusHKX (660194)
      You're too angry, bud.

      Try this. I make my own vodka. I don't sell it (A, great flavor, B, uncle scam would assault me with the full weight of its bureaucratic thugs... thus, I withhold the goodies for my own consumption.)

      I'll give free advice. If you spice vodka and mix it with various fruit juices (or plain water) it becomes rum. Depending on the mixtures, pure vodka can become pretty much any other drink. Just get some nice wooden barrels, proper filtration techniques and materials and distill away.
      • by bit01 (644603)

        Stop bitching about marketing

        Enough with the nonsense. Unsolicited marketing is stealing ever more of the time of our lives and the time of our life is the most precious thing we have.

        Modern unsolicited mass marketers are scum. It's no accident that marketers rate very low in respect surveys. Most unsolicited marketers should be in jail for fraud - almost all ad's on hot media like network TV are fraudulent, not to mention the fact that puerile consumerism crowds out much more important concerns like

        • almost all ad's on hot media like network TV are fraudulent

          All things on TV are fraudulent, people knew this under communism. How come so much better people like western intellectuals actually watch TV? Aren't you people supposed to have side stepped outright dictatorship?

          not to mention the fact that puerile consumerism crowds out much more important concerns like intelligent government or responsible parenting

          Government of the few fallible mortals over the many fallible mortals, regardless of how often t
          • Why don't you go outside, go for a swim, go get laid, go watch TV or teach your kids something,

            Typo copy and pasting. Should read as follows:

            Why don't you go outside, go for a swim, go get laid, or teach your kids something,
    • by slig (1233832)
      Well the alternate world where there's no cash/consumption economy is a scary place for some, and it's in the best interest of people who subscribe to that model to keep it alive any way they can. As an extension of the humans which created it, economics is a pervasive, organic, living thing in itself. The best defense would be to maintain the mental barrier against the innocuous manipulation of marketers, or at least try and confuse their data.
    • by drfireman (101623)
      On the whole I agree with you, but let me mention two issues. First, advertising doesn't have to be effective on everyone to be worthwhile. The fact that advertisers find their methods effective would in no way be inconsistent with there being a few thousand Slashdot readers who truly are not affected by advertising. It would be in no way inconsistent with three quarters of the population being unmoved by advertising. Second, I think you're giving advertisers too much credit. Admittedly, I don't have a
  • Isn't it rather bad scientific method to test (n) out on users of (n), then measuring effect rather than cause?
    Or is this just a really good argument to dismiss marketing generally as pseudo-science?
    • They are not trying to win an economics nobel prize, they are trying to sell whisky.

      This whole tinfoil hat discussion is way overboard. This is just a high tech version of a focus group study, which is something advertisers have been doing for ages. So long as they are only measuring brain activity of volunteer subjects instead of their actual customers, they can do whatever the fuck they want.

  • ...of a 'useful' product and just start being actual manipulation to buy shit-on-a-stick?

    Here I guess.

    Of course the thought of some trailer-tr@sh soaking up the latest food-o-matic-slicer-dicer-3001 suggests we're way past that point. However, if even educated people are enticed, then that might be the sign that it is more manipulation that advertising, and it shouldn't be allowed.

    Actually I guess that even being edumacated hasn't been less-and-less protection in the past few decades...but I wouldn't bet
  • by Conspicuous Coward (938979) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:57PM (#22959968)

    Yes, marketers using technology to quite literally get inside your head is a very creepy prospect. But marketers have been using everything at their disposal to get into your head since forever. How is this different?

    Personally I find the fact that there's a multi-trillion dollar industry working full time in an effort to manipulate my conscious and subconscious mind into believing that corporation X is my friend and that I desperately need they're crap in order to be a worthwhile individual already is creepy enough.
    The fact that this industry's influence is so pervasive they can subject each of us to thousands of hours of their propaganda before we're even old enough to think makes that doubly so. There is good research showing that more 4 year olds now recognise the mcdonalds logo that most common animals or shapes.

    I also particularly love this

    to gauge the emotional power of various images, including college kids drinking cocktails on spring break, twentysomethings with flasks around a campfire, and older guys at a swanky bar'. The results were used to fine-tune an ad campaign for the maker of Jack Daniels.
    Scientific research on how to better push drugs. Lovely. You'd think there were more serious problems for neuroscientists to be working on than how to get more people to destroy their brains with JD. I also love how this fact elicits absolutely no comment in the article, imagine the media reaction if the same technology was found being used to push marijuana.
    • by MikeUW (999162)
      If I had mod points, I'd mod the parent up as insightful. I also find it disturbing that research conducted in higher education institutions is being mandated by rich corporations looking for more efficient ways to get richer.
      • Well who else is going to pay for those buildings and expensive hardware those college kids are using to keep from doing something actually useful to themselves or others?

        The fact that somebody (Jack Daniels) actually found a way to benefit from it, good for them. The fact that Jack Daniels feels the need to do this makes me laugh.

        What most of you don't realize is that the audience JD is targeting would have already decided they were going to somehow acquire liquor and drink it. JD, to my knowledge just n
    • I guess it comes down to who sponsored the study? only the advertising R&D budget of quite large companies would be able to sponsor this sort of thing, so alcohol companies would be my first bet, possibly tied with cigarette companies?
    • by relikx (1266746)
      Full disclosure, I work in advertising/marketing.

      Your over-simplification of the industry being solely focused on _manipulation_ shows your fears are more grounded in Orwellian fantasy than reality.

      There's no denying advertisers are pushers pure and simple. You underestimate the tacit symbiosis that exists in certain consumer segments and the respective products at hand though.

      Are there ethics in this profession? Not especially, but the problem is that the modern system of content delivery is fi
  • Any scientist working on this program should have their fingers taken off with bolt-cutters. This sort of predatory marketing is a crime against the human soul.
    • There was a fellow, sometime ago, wrote a book called "The Monkeywrench Gang".

      Irony is... he had a "recipe for freedom"... went something like this:

      "How to be free, kick in your TeeVee brew your own beer, kill your own meat, build your own cabin, and piss off the front porch whenever you damn feel like it. That is how to be free."

      I feel damn disappointed only that I forgot the guy's name. Good philosophy. If you can't do it yourself, then WTF are you bitching about? I was like this too, some time ago.
  • 20 years, Blipverts here we come.
  • by IHC Navistar (967161) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:21PM (#22960076)
    Prof: Farnsworth: "The ads get into your dreams the same way this liquid gets into this egg." (sticks syringe into egg. Egg pops and splatters) "Except instead of liquid, it's gamma radiation!"

    Wow. I thought that level of unleashed marketing was only good for cartoon humor.
  • IQ has increased 3 points per year for quite a while now. If nothing else, these improved marketing methods will increase this "increase in knowledge" so to speak. This has been a game that we've played since the inception of man, ever improving manipulation methods to meet ones own ends.
  • "The Tunnel Beneath the World" by Philip Jose Farmer
  • by EEPROMS (889169) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:52PM (#22960200)
    [Non descript Office worked walks up to a door marked "Marketing Dept" then opens it.]

    Marketing Dept "BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAINS"

    [Office worker quickly shuts door scratches head then opens it again]

    Marketing Dept BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAINS WE WANT MORE BRAAAAAINS"

    [Office worked shakes head and quickly heads down the hall.]
  • As if the self selection of losers with nothing better to do than get free junk when the rest of us are working hadn't already skewed how we were being pitched in favor of the lower part of the distribution that ensures the average IQ is 100, now ads will be dictated by those so dumb they are willing to let their minds be hooked up to machines.

    When will the ad agencies realize they are marketing to the outliers at the low end of the intellectual, and therefore the socioeconomic, spectrum? Or will Adwords
    • pitched in favor of the lower part of the distribution that ensures the average IQ is 100

      IQ scores are designed (and adjusted over the years) to fit a normal distribution, such that 100 is the mean.

      Also, advertisements (especially those for booze) tend to appeal to our basic most needs (see either Maslow or Freud).You may be less governed by appeals to these needs than someone less intelligent due to your reasoning power; however, appealing to these basic needs is still probably an ad company's best chance at overriding or modifying rational thought. Given this, people of low intelligence may

      • I'm aware that 100 is defined to be the mean IQ, and just how dumb someone with an IQ of 100 is is absolutely scary. It is also true that there is a much greater distribution of those with scores between 80 and 100, than those from 100-120.

        Your other point is reinforcing mine: that the reason the only thing on TV is pabulum tailored to our base instincts is that that is all the ad agencies measure.
        • It's possible you don't understand IQ scores. It is a weighted adjusted score which is designed to have a normal distribution with a median of 100. That means that 80-100 will have roughly the same as 100-120. Here [msn.com] is a graph showing the distribution.

          You think someone with an IQ of 100 is scary? Half of the people are even dumber than that.
          • I thought that, in practice, since having an IQ under 70 meant you pretty much couldn't function, but there is no upper limit, the reality was that the distribution had a lot more under, but close to, 100 than above, but close to, it. IOW, that actually MORE than half of the population was 100 or under, because the outliers on the higher end were much further from 100 than the ones on the lower end (201 is theoretically possible, while -1 is not). I understand the theory, but it is my understanding that rea
  • But do you really need elaborate ad testing methods to sell alcohol? I was under the impression that it just had to not taste like ass while still keeping a reasonable price compared to the other non-ass-tasting brands.
  • by bjbest (808259) on Friday April 04, 2008 @12:32AM (#22960344)
    I've seen the news stories on neuro-marketing before. My purely "gut" feeling is that try to collerate imagery with brain activity, and trying to find the magic solution to push the "buy it now, buy it now button in your mind is all a bunch of baloney and it proves that the "neuromarketers" have successfully marketed themselves to major advertisers.

    The neuromarketers dazzle the advertisers with high tech research tools and high-concept pseudoscience and charge a lot of money for the privlidge. Quite a scam.

    What upsets me is that the waiting lists for MRI scans for legitiment medical uses can be weeks or even months long (in Canada at least), while these expensive machines, and the scarce qualified persons that operate them, are tied up for completely "frivilous", and likely totally useless purposes.

    • What upsets me is that the waiting lists for MRI scans for legitiment medical uses can be weeks or even months long (in Canada at least), while these expensive machines, and the scarce qualified persons that operate them, are tied up for completely "frivilous", and likely totally useless purposes.

      In the US, there is little to no waiting for an MRI scan, If one MRI lab is busy, call the one next door (ok, that is slight exageration). Some of the clients of marketers are MRI labs. I regularly hear/see ads from one MRI lab or another telling me why I should get my MRI done by them rather than the other guy. I guess that is just one more example of how much better the Canadian health system is over the US health system.

    • by drfireman (101623)
      I have a little bit of expertise in telling the difference between what you can and can't tell with BOLD fMRI, and on the whole you're right -- the neuromarketers aren't exactly selling snake oil, but they're probably not discouraging their customers from developing an inflated view of what you can and can't learn from it.

      I don't know how bad you can feel about MRI scanners getting tied up for advertising "research." It's really just money, and MRI scanners are way at the bottom of the list of things waste
  • Most consumers aren't using their brains anyway.
  • Hype alert (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jandersen (462034) on Friday April 04, 2008 @02:33AM (#22960766)
    This article, or possibly the book he reviews, makes some startling leaps of conclusion. What the researchers have done is to compare brain activity to mental activity; nothing new in this, just another step on the way to understanding. The advertising agency has used this to evaluate which kind of adverts seems to work best, on average, with people; nothing new in this either, but now they are trying to use another data source than before.

    The article then jumps from these admittedly interesting results to start musing about 'what if "they" could read or even influence your mind as you walk into the shop' - which is of course utter nonsense. As things stand now you still require expensive machinery - you cannot 'scan' people's thought as they pass, and it is not likely that it will ever be possible to pick out individuals in a crowd anyway; and you cannot subject people to strong magnetic fields etc on a daily basis, it is simply too bad for their health. Put on top of that the fact that our actual thoughts are not something that can be easily interpreted from the electrical state of your brain - even if one could work out a precise rule book that would allow us to read the thoughts of one person, there is no guarantee that the same rules would work for somebody else. Each person has a unique brain, which is why they have different taste, reach different conclusions from the same facts and behave in different ways. What you can do is see some of the basic ingredients of our state of mind - how much anxiety, elation, sexual arousal, hunger etc - but one can't really tell what decisions a person will make, at least not in much detail. The complexity in doing this is as great as or even greater than predicting the weather.

    So where does this leave things? The advertising agency now believes they can design better marketing campaigns because they have used 'scientific data'; but the fact is that all they can hope for is to strike a chord with an average of people. This doesn't really change a thing - it is not difficult to predict average behaviour, but it is next to impossible to predict what an individual will do. As far as I can see, this is just an advert: an advert for the agency.
  • In other words, the corporations are paying people to go looking for exploits in our brains. Full disclosure and all that, right? The problem is that once they've found the exploit, you can't just go and get a patch from the vendor. They're not full disclosure either; a better analogy would be those zero-day trading scenes where crackers sell exploits to the krasnaya mafiya.

    Just why should this be legal?

    (If you want to be picky about it, it's more like privilege escalation than rooting.. but I'm strai
    • by tinkerton (199273)
      Apart from legal issues, if advertising/PR/propaganda would become highly effective by whatever means, could we still allow it?

      I tend to worry more about the actual effect than about the legality - but maybe I shouldn't. Anyway, I think the metaphor is useful, exploits are being found and used all the time, and we need patches. Not necessary legal patches, education patches.
  • by NEOtaku17 (679902) on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:29AM (#22960934) Homepage
    Why is it that Slashdot's first reaction to these types of studies is "there should be a law!"? What ever happened to free speech? Seriously, if you don't like ads DON'T WATCH THEM! Stop demanding that the government outlaw everything you find uncomfortable or annoying or else don't complain when religious people try to regulate your life and control what you watch and say.
    • by LordEd (840443)
      If you don't find advertising on ____ media acceptable, tell the advertising company.

      I find pre-movie full motion (non-trailer) advertising offensive considering the price of a movie ticket. I usually send the company an email indicating that their advertising will result in me avoiding their product(s) for a long time.

      No clue if it works, but it might give them something to think about when they go to renew their advertising contracts.
    • Why is it that Slashdot's first reaction to these types of studies is "there should be a law!"? What ever happened to free speech? Seriously, if you don't like ads DON'T WATCH THEM!

      I don't think anyone is advocated making whiskey ads illegal. What people want is for the brain-scanning to be made illegal. Because, otherwise, it could become as unbiquitous as drug testing in employment. It could be used as a justification to preemptively lock people up. There simply are dangers in allowing it to be used.

  • Is George Romero making a new movie?
  • It is only becoming more and more apparent every day that he was right:

    By the way if anyone here is in advertising or marketing... kill yourself.
    No, no, no it's just a little thought. I'm just trying to plant seeds. Maybe one day, they'll take root - I don't know. You try, you do what you can.
    Kill yourself.
    Seriously though, if you are, do.
    Aaah, no really, there's no rationalisation for what you do and you are Satan's little helpers.
    Okay - kill yourself - seriously. You are the ruiner of all things good, seriously. No this is not a joke, you're going, "there's going to be a joke coming," there's no fucking joke coming.
    You are Satan's spawn filling the world with bile and garbage. You are fucked and you are fucking us. Kill yourself. It's the only way to save your fucking soul, kill yourself.
    Planting seeds. I know all the marketing people are going, "he's doing a joke... there's no joke here whatsoever. Suck a tail-pipe, fucking hang yourself, borrow a gun from a Yank friend - I don't care how you do it. Rid the world of your evil fucking makinations. Machi... Whatever, you know what I mean.

  • A penny for your thoughts?
  • > By watching how different neural circuits light
    > up or go dark during the buying process, the
    > researchers

    can't possible determine whether the circuits involved are firing because they're working or because they're firing randomly in the absence of a function to perform, or whether the "lighting up" is excitatory or inhibitory. For that matter, without a simultaneous test of neural activity, all an fMRI can tell you is that blood is concentrating in these areas for reasons that may have nothing t
  • 147 comments and not a single mention of Lightspeed Briefs...

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