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The Almighty Buck

fMRI + Marketing = Consumer Control? 129

anonomouse writes "NYT magazine has an interesting article on the use of neuro-imagery in marketing. Best (old) quote: 'Half of the money I spend on advertising is wasted, but I don't know which half'. Good, bad, whatever? Does this bode well for job opportunities for the new crops of cognitive systems graduates? Most importantly, what does brain state tell us about behavior, if anything?"
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fMRI + Marketing = Consumer Control?

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  • Maybe they should study the brains of the people who decide to make the first post and do nothing but prove how immature they are.
  • human evolution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Saturday October 25, 2003 @02:30PM (#7308910)
    Somehow I think 50 million years to human evolution has both bred people who can convince others to do what they want and people resistant to that appeal that in both cases will be no match for any analytical approach to dissecting human puchasing habits.

    • I suspect you're right, though really we're only talking about a couple hundred thousand years of evolution. Homo species prior to Sapiens probably didn't have the kind of symbolic processing ability that would make such linguistic or visual appeals, or the the ability to resist them, evolutionarily important, even if they had language, which is also under question. And in any case, the combined Homo and Austro primate branches have only been around for about 5 (+/- 1) million years.

      However, let's say that
  • One word. Looker. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by pair-a-noyd ( 594371 )
    Looker []

    Watch it.

    Learn it. Love it. Live it..
    • Off topic my ass.

      Watch the movie. It's 100% relevant to the topic. It's prophetic.

      It's not a T&A movie as the shallow of mind would think, it's about mind control and marketing. The use computer generated models combined with mind controlling embedded signals to not only compell people to buy things they don't want/need they end up using the same technique to convince people to vote for a faux presidential candidate.

      Jeez people, can't you ever use your minds to see through the bling-bling to see t
  • by saden1 ( 581102 ) on Saturday October 25, 2003 @02:34PM (#7308932)
    A /. will analyze adds different. He/She will:
    1. See if they can use the product being advertise.
    2. Check if there is a free alternative.
    3. Check Google/Google groups for negative comments about the product.
    4. Search Google/Google groups for competitive product.
    6. Do an on-line merchant price comparison.
    5. Check their bank account balance on-line and see if they have dough. Some of them will actually start doing spread sheet calculation to see how it fits to the overall monthly budget.
    6. Buy the product if it is deemed worthy.

    Your average Joe on the other hand will:
    1. See and add while watching Survivor.
    2. Think the product is very good because the add was cool.
    3. Go out and buy the product the next day.
    • However, the average Joe will spell 'ad' correctly, because he realizes that watching TV isn't the same as doing arithmetic.

      For that matter, he might even put a '.' in the title of his post, so the '/' doesn't get loney.
    • I have a simpler solution. I never buy anything I see in an advertisement from that advertiser. Why support behavior that I do not like? If it's something I decide I really want, I buy the product (or better yet, a competing one) from someone else that hasn't irritated me with an advertisement.

      Besides, realistically we don't need a good percentage of what we buy. Most advertising dollars are aimed at stripping us of what we consider our "disposable" income, i.e. money we don't need for things like ho
    • Why is this modded funny? That is exactly the methodology I use for most purchases.
    • Advertising doesn't work like that. If you believe it does, then you too are suseptible to more subtle adverts.

      Advertising rarely sells a product, in almost all mass-market adverts, the goal is to build a brand name that appeals to a large demographic.

      I know this works on me, because I have studied the effects on others. I find people who claim to be immune to advertisments are often the most easily swayed by brand-name building.
    • The point is that the brand makes up for the other 6 steps for the non-/.er.

      Now we just need to embed a stand-up MRI in joe-schmoe's armchair while he is watching football so we can do some REAL analysis.
    • A /. will analyze adds different. He/She will:
      1. See if they can use the product being advertise.
      2. Check if there is a free alternative.
      3. Check Google/Google groups for negative comments about the product.
      4. Search Google/Google groups for competitive product.

      5. Go to Kazaa or (or elsewhere) to see if they can obtain product without paying.
      6. If not, wait until they can.

      (Oh and your numbering is off, 6. follows 4. and then we get 5. and 6., but I'm just being anal (only one).)

    • You forgot: 1.5 See if anyone has got linux to run on the product yet.
  • by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Saturday October 25, 2003 @02:37PM (#7308947) Homepage
    Advertising has a large unconscious component; anyone who has lived in this modern world for any stretch of time knows that. This is just the first time (probably not even) that it's been documented with medical evidence. Advertisers have been researching the psychological effects of color, motion, music, and so on for decades; it's no surprise they'd eventually switch to modern instruments instead of having focus groups respond verbally or in writing.
    • It's true. I know how much color on labeling effects my purchasing decisions.

      I really like white. Lots and lots of white. A little black around the edges, a word or two and a very few very low numbers.

      Motion too. I like things that just kinda sit there waiting for me to pick them up. I find it rather disconcerting when I reach for the yogurt and it dances to one side and leers at me. I think that's taking the whole "active culture" thing a bit to far. I figure that when a culture reaches the pottery makin
  • The family summer camp we attended (jokingly) touted their rooms as "climate controlled". This meant that they had no A/C, and the temperature was controlled by the climate.

    When I fist saw the title, I thought, "Good news, consumers are getting back some control". Then I read the rest of the article and was confused for a moment.

    • The family summer camp we attended (jokingly) touted their rooms as "climate controlled". This meant that they had no A/C, and the temperature was controlled by the climate.

      Florida rentals are famous for this too, with their "solar-heated pools." I initially thought they had solar panels which heated the water. Nope -- it's the sun that does the heating directly! LOL, kinda.

  • Technology (Score:4, Insightful)

    by alpha713 ( 701963 ) <nirusb@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Saturday October 25, 2003 @02:39PM (#7308960)
    It seems that technology is becoming more and more...invasive is the wrong word, never the less its the only one that comes to mind. There are so few area's of life that have not been affected by technology. This is another example of how wide spread and diversified technology has become. I'll reserve my judgement on whether this is a good or a bad thing, but to much dependance on anything is never a good thing.

    Lines of thinking that lead to Terminator style future scenarios are probably paranoid on my part but at this point in time a technological failure on a widespread basis would cripple not just the US economy but economies world wide. It's part of the price that we pay for globalization.
    • Well, advanced technology is not the problem, in and of itself: I would argue that most of the problems we have today are because our technology is not sufficiently advanced. Time, and continuing investment in research will cure that. However, I do agree that an extreme level of interdependence is a mistake. The recent problems with the Eastern Interconnect should teach us that. This worldwide rush to connect everything with everything (and I don't mean just data, I mean with economic systems) is probl
  • fMRI assumptions (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    fMRIs only say there is significant activity above some baseline. It does not always equate to thoughts, processes, etc. Refer to this [] comment for an example.
  • by GGardner ( 97375 ) on Saturday October 25, 2003 @02:41PM (#7308975)
    I've got bad news for the marketting people out there -- they waste a lot more than half their marketing budget. I bet 90% of the advertisements I see are completely useless to me.
    • Advertising doesn't affect you in a way that you are really conscious of in most cases, I think. It's all about familiarity, repetition of a logo, or combination of colors or name or whatever. You are probably more affected than you realize.
      • We were ordering pizza a few nights ago. "Hmmm, do you like Panago?" "Yeah, it's not bad...but wait, they have that annoying ad where they sing Mambo #5, but about pizza. Lets get it from somewhere else"

        Whenever an ad annoys me, I make note, and never buy the product, even if it is cheapest. If I am buying something, I always consider the options, look for reviews if appropriate, etc. The best they can hope for with advertising is to NOT disqualify themselves by annoying me ;)

      • Meh... all that theory is great, but when you can see exactly what they're doing, it doesn't do them much good.

        By now, most people are so familiar with advertising tatics that it just makes the advertisers look like amateurs when they go for the things that used to really hit on a low psychological level, unless they find a new and interesting way to do it.

        There was one commercial I remember, where they actually stated that repetition of their name would help you remember it, and the guy was cutting deli

        • That would be Blimpie. The joke was something to the effect of the founder of Blimpie (the guy in the ad) would never stoop to such low levels, no matter what the ad exectutives told him. I'm fairly sure they also did a commercial where they combined the two most powerful forces in advertising by having puppies playing with babies.

          I'd much rather have those tongue-in-cheek ads than the current batch of "shock" commerials. Actually, I'd rather have no ads at all, but that's not a likely option.

    • I bet 90% of the adverts you see are targeted to a different demographic.

      You're in a small demographic, learn to recognize this.

      A side effect of your constant distain for most products is you will be more prone to be influenced by adverts that target your demographic.

      Think in demographics, not individuals. They don't advertise to individuals, they advertise to demographics.
      • Virtually all ads (read: 99.9%) are targeted to a very specific demographic.

        You can see this in political ads - they are targeted at clueless... er... "swing voters", who are often identified as suburban white women.

        If you aren't a suburban white woman, you probably think most political ads are pointless.

  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Saturday October 25, 2003 @02:41PM (#7308979) Journal
    Although it goes one layer closer to the source, fMRI has the same flaw as any other lie-detector system (which this basically acts as, except that instead of detecting lies, they want to detect the far less tangible "appeal" of a given advertisement).

    With the classic lie detectors, you can trick them out simply by clenching the muscles in your butt - This causes a drastic spike in blood pressure, galvanic skin response goes nuts - basically all the classic indicators of stress become totally random.

    With fMRI, or PET, or any other "direct" brain imaging technology, a comparable technique exists - Think about sex. Thanks to our brain's hard-wired affinity for reproduction, thinking about sex will completely dominate over most other brain activity. Think graphically. Think in pictures. Try to imagine smells, tastes, what the tolerably hot-in-a-geeky-way research assistant looks like naked, whatever. This will guarantee the results end up totally meaningless.

    Any other strong emotion will work as well, but for most people, thinking about sex comes easiest to fake.
    • Also, this will mean advertisements using sex-appeal will rank extremely high, even though thousands of real studies have shown that sex-appeal in advertisement has no real advantage, except maybe that it's really easy to do and not particularly worse than other adds.
    • Although it goes one layer closer to the source, fMRI has the same flaw as any other lie-detector system (which this basically acts as, except that instead of detecting lies, they want to detect the far less tangible "appeal" of a given advertisement).

      But are people who volunteer for fMRI studies going to try to screw the results? This reminds me of a Calvin and Hobbes [] cartoon where Calvin fills in a marketing survey for bubble gum, and requests something weird like "curry flavor" just because he likes t

  • by kaltkalt ( 620110 ) on Saturday October 25, 2003 @02:43PM (#7308991)
    ...and if people need it, they'll buy it. Advertisers need to quit trying so hard to lie, deceive, and manipulate people. Then they need to all kill themselves in the most painful way possible.

    Just make a friggin product that does what it's supposed to do, works well, and doesn't break after 90 days. Word of mouth is the only legitimate form of advertising, and you have to earn that through the merit of your product... you can't buy it.
    • Aparantly these "stupid people" are making profit on "stupid products" at the expense of decent products that actually work.

      Maybe people creating decent products should also package them in appealing ways as well, rather than depending entirely on word-of-mouth.

      Generally its a good idea to think about and craft every aspect of a product and not just its utility. Beauty, intended market, and product position are all important to consumers of commercial products.

    • Advertisers need to quit trying so hard to lie, deceive, and manipulate people.

      I could just imagine what would happen if Advertisements were more truthful today,

      "Volvo, they're Boxy but they're good";
      "Metamucil. It helps you go to the toilet." and
      "The French can be annoying. Come to Greece, we're nicer.".
    • Unfortunately, word of mouth doesn't always work in a world of M$-like monopolies. No matter how good your product is, if nobody can hear about it over the din of the ads for some other product, it won't usually sell. Now, there are exceptions, but those are too risky to rely on.

  • by Qeyser ( 6788 ) on Saturday October 25, 2003 @02:45PM (#7309013) Homepage

    fMRI is a great research technique -- I've worked with it for years -- but I think that zealous companies that want to find the best way to tickle comsumers' brains are going to be pretty disappointed in fMRI as a marketing research tool. (And at $400+/hr, their disappointment is going to cost them . . .)

    What these companies want is to be able to look at a scan of someone viewing/thinking about their product and to then be able to say, "Aha, he really wants this!", or, "She is debating on whether shee needs this," or even perhaps, "This product makes him feel secure."

    That's bullshit -- its mindreading -- and given what we know about the brain and the signals that can be read in an fMRI, it can't be done. Perhaps one day, far in the future, something like that will be possible. Right now, though, people are still debating what exactly it means (in terms of neural activity) when you see a brain region "light up" in an fMRI scan. And even if we could know how exactly fMRI signals and neural activity relate, there's still a /vast/ dearth of knowledge about what various brain areas actually do, what they represent and how, etc. Maybe one day neuromarketing will pay off, but I honestly don't think it will be any time soon.

    • It seems like what this can do now is to say to Coke "yes, your branding scheme has worked." But Coke already knows that - that's why they're beating Pepsi in the market. This is also unhelpful because it's a test of what *has worked over time*, not what *will work over time*. What is being measured is the impression Coke has made over the people in the test over the course of their lives.

      The problem with this is that it doesn't tell Pepsi what to do to get the same results. Pepsi can't sit in the
    • This is my general take on the technology too, and I've done some work with it also.

      I see it as much like the mapping of the genome. It gets at the basics but we still don't know much about how the basic building blocks interact. The basic building blocks are the easy part. The interactivity, and non-linear relationship between things is where we don't even have a clue. And that's far more complex than the scratching of the surface we're doing right now.
    • Mod the parent up. In this case, it is definitely the marketing companies that are the suckers. Let me first preface this by saying (in concordance with the parent) that fMRI is a very valuable research and diagnostic tool. It is limited, but when used in correctly designed experiments backed by sound interpretation, it can be very useful.

      The biggest flaw with trying to use fMRI to tailor marketing is that seeing activity in a particular area of the brain that happens to be associated with function X
  • All I know is that there's ads in pissers all over NYC.

    This morning I woke up, hung over, and a strange desire to switch over to Cingular's 1000 Minute with rollover plan.
  • by vishakh ( 188958 ) <vishakh@yahoo . c om> on Saturday October 25, 2003 @02:50PM (#7309043) Homepage
    So many studies are done about consumer behavior and advertisers' tactics and, yet, consumers behave exactly as they did before. For example, research [] by Elizabeth Loftus [] at UCI has shown that advertisers like Disney routinely implant memories into us. In one of her studies, subjects even believes that they had seen Bugs Bunny at Disneyland. Even after this was widely reported by the media, Disney ads have stayed the same and are still as likely to "fall prey" to them.

    Obviously, the benefits to advertisers and consumers are quite asymmetrical from all this research. Advertisers can actually refine their techniques and perhaps learn new ones. Consumers, on the other hand, may be a little more educated but they certainly are more easily seduced. While this is not absolutely bad and may even be good in some ways, the fact remains that with increasingly power research tools like fMRI mentioned here, the potential for corporations to absolutely manipulate us increases. I'm sure that things will work out in the future, as they have always done. However, research into "defenses" against memory implantation, et al does need to be conducted.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Much of Loftus' research is on false memories and not on memory implantations. For example, you falsely remembered the Bugs Bunny at Disneyland study as Disney implanting memories. I don't think such a claim was made by Loftus and colleagues. Her point was that memories are NOT snapshots but are ultimately RECONSTRUCTIONS of the past. People tend to fill the gaps as they rebuild the memory according to the present context. Furthermore, Disney and Time-Warner are competitors. Why in the world would Disney w
      • Yes, you are right. My choice of words was incorrect here and "implant" was definitely the wrong term.

        The point of my post is not to revile Disney as evil and raise an alarm about "evil" corporations, but to suggest (what I naively think) an area where a lot of future research should be directed.
    • Since it was a psychologist telling experimental subjects the story about meeting Bugs at Disneyland, not Disney corp., why would their real ads need to change? They didn't show any ads with Bugs, in the first place. Second, her research shows that some people trust profesional people such as Pshrinks enough to relax their guard if carefully prompted to enter a relaxed suggestive state, not that they trust advertisers that much. Second, it still only worked on about 30% of people. I'm remembering it for the
  • Simple (Score:3, Funny)

    by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Saturday October 25, 2003 @03:01PM (#7309096)
    Most importantly, what does brain state tell us about behavior, if anything?

    For most men, nothing. You really need to be looking a little further south for the control center.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 25, 2003 @03:09PM (#7309135)
    fMRI doesn't tell you what neurons do with any spatial or temporal accuracy.

    See this paper: []

    The authors find that:
    * fMRI gives you a really strong signal in the blood vessels
    * Less than 50% of the time, when you average the neural activity over several SECONDS (an action potential lasts 0.015s), and over 1 cubic CENTIMETER (containing 10^8 neurons), fMRI tells you something about that average activity. Only problem is: we know that this averaging can work in SI, the brain area studied in the paper. For other brain areas, who knows?

    Not to mention the issues with statistics in fMRI.

    There are a very few groups doing good MRI studies, e.g. Heeger, Boynton, but they study humans doing relatively simple things.
    Marketing is NOT simple. Marketing + fMRI = crap.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Marketing + fMRI = crap.

      No, Marketing + fMRI = gold.

      You have to realise that the advertising industry isn't in the business of selling products to the public. They are selling advertising campaigns to the corporations. Whether or not their campaigns actually work is secondary compared to whether their customers feel that they work.

      I rather like this fMRI strategy, it's advertising done with a retro 60s whitecoat scientist style. Pretty hip.
    • Anonymous Coward said:

      Less than 50% of the time, when you average the neural activity over several SECONDS (an action potential lasts 0.015s), and over 1 cubic CENTIMETER (containing 10^8 neurons), fMRI tells you something about that average activity.

      While this is true for the majority of fMRI work done today, things are changing. Higher field strengths have greatly increased the spatial resolution of fMRI. Typical voxel size at 3 Tesla is down to about 3 mm to the side (echoplaner, BOLD contrast). As h

  • functional scans (Score:2, Informative)

    by sireenmalik ( 309584 )
    Its PET or fMRI for functional scans. If i understand it correctly with MRI there are two clear advantages over PET scanners:
    1. no radio-active agent is needed, and
    2. the radiologists get the functional as well as the anotomical details- the flesh and its function, to say vulgalrly.

    With the latest 3D imaging tools available with diagnostic machines its easy for the neuro-surgeons to plan the surgeries to much better detail.

    Marketing is another issue. Obviously the customers are either radiologists or neur
  • As usual, Neal Stephenson beatchya there [] ;)

    "You'll be hearing from me again very soon, I'm sure."

  • That's just great (Score:2, Redundant)

    by sjames ( 1099 )

    Perhaps, while we're doing studies, we should study the psychological impact of people ( children in particular) being told nearly continuously that their lives are inadequate, they are inadequate, they're unappealing, and that their real value to society (and chance for a passible life) is measured solely by what they own and the products they use.

    Ads aimed at children and teens especially seem to lean on that message.

    In other words, the effects of long term psychological abuse.

    Note that not all adve

    • I can't believe this got modded interesting. "Oh god, won't someone think of the children!". Please. Advertising isn't going away, no amount of wishful thinking will make it. It's better they grow up with it now so that their minds can become more resistant to it when they are adults and have real purchasing power.

      • I never said it would go away.

        If enough people get upset enough about certain types of advertising, it will change though, especially if they get upset enough to boycott.

        I have nothing against advertising in itself, just some of the common practices.

  • The idea is not too far-fetched if you decide to model the consumer, or in my analogy the node of a network, as-if the node is a computer with the 5 parts,

    MEMORY &

    Ignore the input, ouput, and the storage which are primarily determined by the initial conditions of the node .... and you are left with MEMORY & CPU.

    In MEMORY the SYMBOLS remain the same while we flow thru the symbol-space, and in CPU the symbol-space remains the same while the SYMBOLS flow thru the it... This i
  • Idiot scientist (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wytcld ( 179112 ) on Saturday October 25, 2003 @03:40PM (#7309325) Homepage
    What's more, the brain activity of the subjects was now different. There was also activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that scientists say governs high-level cognitive powers. Apparently, the subjects were meditating in a more sophisticated way on the taste of Coke, allowing memories and other impressions of the drink -- in a word, its brand -- to shape their preference.

    Note the bias here in the interpretation of the results. The eliciting of a stronger response in more primitive areas of the brain - which Pepsi reportedly does when neither is named - is viewed as the more objective reality. While a response which involves higher areas of the brain which are concerned with the aesthetics of it is just a matter of "brand." Further, there's the implication that when the higher areas of aesthetic appreciation are active we're being more manipulated by brand, and missing the reality, as defined by the most primitive reaction, which could well be based on Pepsi having a sweeter taste.

    In all likelihood a splotch of bright red will have a stronger reaction from primitive brain areas than will a fine landscape painting (we're strongly programmed to respond to red since it's often a sign of blood and danger). By the logic of this researcher (at least as reported by the Times) our considered preference for the landscape painting over the splotch of bright red is a sort of manipulation by the brand "landscape painting," or perhaps the brandname of the painter. While there's some small degree of truth to this, isn't it largely back asswards?
    • These things are not parallel at all - the landscape can be appreciated at a higher level then s splotch of red, since there is a lot more complexity to a landscape. You don't need to be told that the painting is a landscape to appreciate it.

      On the other hand Pepsi tastes better in a blind setting but worse when you know that the other liquit is Coke. The higher cognitive functions clearly override the basic perceptions.

      The situation could perhaps be compared to a piece of modern art, which you do not p

      • Parent misses grandparent's point. Yes, Coke branding overrides Pepsi flavor. But crude brain scans don't tell us why. The article offers no evidence that the observed effect is not simply response to color. No one is arguing against this experiment being a demonstration of the importance of branding. People are just expressing skepticism that the brain scans add any value to that result.
        • What do you mean, response to color? The subjects are just _told_ that something is Coke and it causes a measurable and specific change in their brain activity. It certainly seems interesting from the scientific point of view. Whether it is helpful for marketing, etc., I have no idea.

  • ...and/or build a better "ad-trap" ;-)
  • The research described in the article is actually well-advanced--we're beginning to localize higher mental functions. Once the fundies notice this, their reaction should make their crusade against evolution look like small bananas. Why? Because this is one of the trains of experimental evidence that neuroscientists have used to demonstrate that the soul almost certainly does not exist in the religious sense. See s tine/no-soul.html for a discussion.
  • by itchyfidget ( 581616 ) on Saturday October 25, 2003 @05:14PM (#7309807) Journal
    Firstly, you can't have a "stronger" or "higher" or "larger" fMRI response - the most you can have is a larger probability that the signal you are reading in a particular region of the brain is not due to chance but to manipulation of your experimental variable (in this case, the drink being drunk). A comparison between two such probabalistic values (in the article, the degree of 'activation' in the ventral putamen) is pretty much meaningless. The experiment also doesn't control for the possibility that more people in the sample just prefer Coke (at least, from the information given in the article, this is the implication). One of my supervisors was approached a couple of years ago by a film distributor, who wanted to show fMRI pictures of someone just sitting, versus someone reading a book, versus someone watching a film - the desired effect being, of course, to show that films recruit more of the brain. Duh! It would have worked, and been a legitimate thing to do - but they wanted it in a matter of days (and with pretty pictures too!) - this stuff takes time, at least with our facilities it does. So, no deal. In terms of whether fMRI and similar techniques tell you anything ... hmm. Kinda. But results are consistently over-interpreted by many in the scientific community, and as has been pointed out in other posts, fMRI measures local blood flow, not neuronal activity (blood flow, by the way, can be influenced by a variety of factors, such as caffeine, which is a vasodilator ... so if either Coke or Pepsi contained more caffeine than the other, that could partially account, potentially, for differential fMRI results) And don't even start me on using functional imaging techniques as "lie-detectors" ... There's a long way to go, and anyone who says different really IS selling something.
    • A few points here are worth clarifying. First, certainly you can have a stronger fMRI (i.e., BOLD) response in one stimulus condition vs. another. What you can't know for certain, generally, is whether a given difference in mean signal is really due to a stronger BOLD response (vs. noise). But that's what statistics are for. So a comparison of this kind is not necessarily meaningless.

      Second, anyone who's both done science and read science reporting knows that the quality of science reporting in the pop

  • Personally, all the money spent on advertising is wasted on me. Simply because of the obnoxious ads, either content or running the same lump'o'doodoo 2 or 3 times in a row, I will not buy that product. Whenever an ad comes up, I either change the channel or radio station. Take that Ad Exec and smoke it.

  • I wasn't very happy with the article. I can taste the difference between Coke and Pepsi, and I like Coke better, as do most people. Pepsi has a more sugary taste. People apparently don't want that in a strictly recreational drink. Beer is another example; it is bitter.
  • Thus far, I've seen a lot of posts saying that this doesn't work or that if it works then it's a terrible thing because it gives advertisers the ability to manipulate the subconscious mind to make you buy stuff you don't need. But, there's a greater question of ethics here. Why are these advertisers being given access to a scarce medical research resource (magnet time) when there are so many other things that could be done with that resource for the benefit of humankind? How can someone's priorities be s
    • In my experience, what happens is that a scanner is bought for a hospital and/or research dept, costing around 3million (c. $5 million). To claw this money back, the number of hours of function that the scanner will likely achieve in its lifetime is estimated, and this is how much you charge per hour for its use.

      Certainly where I was doing my research, the scanner sat empty and unused for at least one quarter of the time. It seems that it's harder to get money to do the research you want (I was looking at
  • ...welcome the new fMRI overlords!

    Actually, it will be both funny and sad when/if this stuff is actually used. Funny since it won't work on me, marketing shit never has. Sometimes it's really funny how hard they try. Sad in seeing the number of dogs-drooling-at-Pavlov's-bell types wondering around, unaware of their plight...
  • Despite the fact that subliminal advertising has been proven not to work, some major corporations continue to pay big bucks to have it added to their ads. Despite the fact that 90%+ of fMRI research claims to find the place in the brain that lights up when X happens (rather than more properly claiming they're seeing the location of the brain process that supports such phenomena as X) the suits are going to continue to believe that neuroscientists can narrow down the brain parts that make you prefer one cola
  • Here for $0 I'll tell you what consumers want:

    1) free stuff
    2) that is incredibly useful
    3) that lasts forever

    God produces such things , but you may produce

    1) stuff for an affordable to cheap price
    2) that is really useful, not a market bluf
    3) that lasts more if comparatively expensive.

    Now find me that $0 banknote

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.