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FB neuroscience

Facebook plans to open a Center for Marketing Science Innovation in June 2017. Source: Google Images.

Facebook is no longer just a popular social networking site, but it’s also one of the most popular advertising platforms. More and more, Facebook is investing in improving marketing on its site, and its newest endeavor is a true testament to this. In June 2017, Facebook plans to open a Center for Marketing Science Innovation in lower Manhattan – which is its very own neuroscience research center to learn more about how consumers engage with content.

The study of neuroscience in marketing is not exactly a new concept, as companies such as LightReaction, Nielsen, and Spark Neuro are already applying this, according to a recent AdWeek article. However, the collection of biometric data to better understand user behavior is becoming increasingly popular, and Facebook wants to play a bigger part. Facebook has already been conducting neuroscience testing in a controlled environment to understand how its users react to content on its sites, such as by tracking eye movement when browsing an Instagram feed. Such an analysis, for instance, can reveal what type of ads users pay more attention to – ads with images beat ads with text in this case. Now, Facebook will have an entire research lab dedicated to collecting this type of information. This information is less biased and provides more complete information about the human experience than data collected by more traditional research methods such as surveys and focus groups.

A third-party company will manage Facebook’s marketing science lab. This facility will not look much like other Facebook buildings, as the company is going for a more technical, doctor’s office sort of look, according to Director of Advertising Research, Daniel Slotwiner in the AdWeek article. Here, they will study users in various settings, such as viewing content on a desktop computer, mobile phone, or television. The facility will also have various sorts of rooms, including rooms that are meant to look like living rooms, standardized testing centers, and conference rooms. The technology in this lab will monitor and measure users’ biometric data by ways such as eye tracking, skin response, heart rate, and facial expression, while users are browsing their newsfeed or watching 20-30 minute shows. Facebook plans to focus the research largely on mobile use, and plans to eventually expand into other mediums such as virtual reality.

While Facebook already knows how long users spend on the social media site, the additional biometric information will be helpful in determining exactly what kind of content users are spending their time on. According to the AdWeek article, Facebook plans to share this information with the public and to partner with certain brands, marketing agencies, and academics in order to drive long-term marketing strategies together.

From a marketing management perspective, here are some questions to consider:

  • How might Facebook benefit from conducting this marketing research in-house?
  • Why do you think Facebook has chosen to let a third-party company manage the lab?
  • Why is the data collected from this neuroscience research so valuable? How can it be used to drive strategy?