Illustration by Curt Doty

Illustration by Curt Doty

As Data and Analytics are taking over the Advertising and Marketing world, it is increasingly difficult for Creatives to have a voice, and for that matter, relevance, in this ever-changing landscape.


I have been a creative for over 25 years. I have sat through many focus groups across the country, watching the various biases that result from a clever moderator to an assertive participant. Qual and Quant studies never really dive into what the sub-conscious actually thinks. Though I do believe traditional research methods have certain value, but If you are seeking the truth, it lies in the brain.


“Since we can’t make decisions or take an action without the presence

of emotion, marketers need a better way to measure emotion. But if

we can’t rely on surveys and focus groups to help us dissect emotion,

what can we do?”

-       Spencer Gerrol, Founder of SPARK Neuro


Actionable insights, with a new understanding of emotion, is what will help guide and inspire creatives to make their work better. I geek out on this stuff, probably because I was Pre-Med many years ago and have a rare balance of left and right brain simpatico.


Enter Research 2.0: NeuroScience

One of my complaints about traditional research is that it can often water down creativity because with surveys and focus groups people often object to things that violate their expectations. This is why I have embraced neurometric research. Its difference is significant because when reading how someone’s brain and body responds, the emphasis is on different measures of success. It is important to look for peaks in attention, which are often caused by the unexpected. A dramatic pause, a surprising twist, and a mystery waiting to be uncovered are all examples of elements that raise attention. Human beings are attracted to things that are different, causing increased focus.


“Attention and emotion are the Holy Grail in marketing. If people are not

tuned in to your message, it won’t register; and if your content doesn’t

make people feel something, it will have a limited effect.”

-       Spencer Gerrol, Founder of SPARK Neuro


We should also look for peaks, and valleys, in emotional intensity. A dramatic story with a mix of positive and negative emotions causes increased engagement. For example, fear followed quickly by relief creates an emotional rollercoaster that causes us to focus even harder and remember even more.



“Regardless of the medium, it has been proven time and time again

that the most effective marketing messages are those that evoke strong

emotions, surprise you, and seamlessly integrate with the brand.”

-       Spencer Gerrol, Founder of SPARK Neuro


This revolutionary research enables us to see how consumers are impacted by content – both consciously and subconsciously – in ways never before possible. This includes study of brain-cell activity, sweaty palms, eye tracking, and facial expressions – all of which were linked to direct consumer activity. The end result: the real-world impact of all types of content – banner ads, TV ads, brand videos, feature articles, even movie trailers – can now be scientifically proven. I don’t think we are headed into a world where AI Bots will be cutting movie trailers, replacing human creatives, but for the time, let’s embrace the new and strive to be better in our creativity…. through New-ro Science.




Curt Doty is an award-winning Strategist, Storyteller and Creative, who brings leadership experience across the entertainment, marketing and branding worlds. His pioneering spirit has led him into innovative UI and creative technology experiences focused on multi-platform storytelling and interactive content. His consultancy, is focused on marketing and branding with a focus on digital. He is, and continues to be, a thought leader, visionary and outspoken creative on what is happening in Tech, Content and Design. Curt serves on the advisory board of SPARK Neuro.



SPARK Neuro is an applied neuroscience company revolutionizing the evaluation of audience engagement in advertising and entertainment. Instead of relying on traditional, biased research methods, SPARK Neuro goes right to the source, measuring brain and nervous system activity so it can see exactly when people are engaged and when they are not. SPARK Neuro quantifies attention and emotional levels with second-by-second precision. SPARK’s research is trusted by

major brands including GM, Clorox, Toyota, NBC, Universal Pictures, Telemundo, and Netflix.

SPARK Neuro has been featured for its innovative research by CNN, ABC News, and The Washington Post.



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