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Digital Man

What happens when biology, data and our brains meet? [#ChinwagPsych14]

A feisty crowd of 200 behavioural psychologists, analysts, researchers and agency folk poured into the annual Chinwag Psych London this morning to hear the latest in tech, psychology and brain science to help everyone be happier, more effective shillers of their respective wares.

The morning saw an interesting lineup from the first two of the four areas Chinwag have split the day into (Anticipate, Optimise, Analyse and Persuade).

Ed Weatherall (VisualDNA) opened up the morning with a look at the connection between the digital, physical and emotional elements of humans and why there is a big knowledge gap for businesses when it comes to the last two. Weatherall ended the session with some interesting points about the future of risk and personal data when it comes to the future of insurance and how past data will have real future consequences for consumers.

Mark Adams (The Audience) then talked about biology and online behaviour using a successful biological metaphor. Adams’ company creates magazine content for over a billion consumers via some of the top talent around the world — he described how brands try to “own” platforms when instead they should own the discussion which is different to how many view it.

Sarah Walker (Millward Brown) discussed facial coding, brands, their narcissism and how to move people from indifference when it comes to stories and storytelling. In essence, the story doesn’t need to be about the brand, sometimes it should but ultimately it’s about pushing people either way. It appears the old adage is true, “a body in motion stays in motion”.

The Optimise section was opened by PR veteran Mark Borkowski who discussed “Savage Creatures and vile passions; the lessons of communication by contagion” and (summing up) how values are changing and that there are too many stories already so making yours count and cutting through are imperative.

Brian Massey (Conversion Sciences) continued with “Getting passed the Bouncers in our brains; writing copy that persuades”, in which he espoused the importance of linguistic analysis and focusing on creating understanding beyond simplistic practices.

Closing the Optimise section was Craig Sullivan (Optimal Visit LTD) and André Morys (Web Arts) who claimed Neuromarketing is bullish!t and why emotional optimisation has the highest ROI for business who are really looking to connect with their audience. These were great sessions so look out for the videos when they come out.

An impressive lineup including Dr Paul “Mind Virus” Marsden (Social Commerce), web psychologist Nathalie Nahai, Leigh Caldwell (The Irrational Agency) and more are on later in the day so make sure you follow #ChinwagPsych14 for what is likely to be some serious tweetbait and useful stats.

Three key takeaways from the morning :

1. Pre-testing is a huge opportunity for brands that are serious about content

Eye-tracking, emotional testing and other mechanics are still being used for video ads. I believe there is a larger opportunity for brands to reduce spend and increase engagement using these technologies. The samples you need for relevancy are smaller than you think.

2. Brands continue to miss tricks by not adopting editorial thinking

A lot of the morning’s session anchored around storytelling but went further than the usual conferences to focus on the emotional side of distribution. It’s time to understand not just who the audience is but how they make decisions and when.

3. Heuristics continue to be under-utilised and misunderstood

Understanding the shortcuts people take to make decisions and process information is increasingly important but understanding advanced and emerging heuristics for flat in addition to dynamic content is increasingly so.

Author | Paul Armstrong

Paul Armstrong
Paul Armstrong runs HERE/FORTH an advisory that helps business leaders decide how to best use rapidly changing and emerging technologies. More