Disney plans biometric test lab for advertisements

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NOT ONLY DO ADVERTISERS WANT TO KNOW IF CONSUMERS ARE willing to spend, now they also want to know how fast they can make their hearts race, and if it's worth the money. Walt Disney Co. plans to establish a biometric testing laboratory in Austin, Texas, by the end of this year. In a controlled, sitting-room setting, scientists will test 4,000 participants' biometric reactions to advertising, using the latest technology to find out if people are more engaged by new and interactive ads. Participants will be exposed to Web advertising, mobile marketing and TV spots while scientists measure their eye move-ments, heart rate and skin conductivity. “In today's rapidly evolving media environment, we need to go beyond traditional forms of research to ensure an effective connection with our audience,” said George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN and ABC Sports, and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks, in a release. The lab hopes to capture audience behavior related to visual ads that is often missed in focus group surveys. Researcher Duane Varan, executive director of the Interactive Television Research Institute at Murdoch University, Perth, Australia, said the research lab aims to better understand the emotional drivers of audience behavior and physiological reaction to advertising. “We can get to a deeper layer of what's motivating people by seeing how they behave, observing them in experimental settings and seeing how their body reacts,” Varan said. “TV is not a rational medium, it's an emotional medium.” The first results are expected by early 2009.
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