What Yahoo! Canada is Learning from EEG Experiments

Tom Hartman

Nick Drew speaking at ClickZ Live Toronto 2014

One of the more captivating presentations at the ClickZ Live Toronto digital marketing conference this year was delivered by Nick Drew, Head of Research at Yahoo! Canada. Cleverly named The Zero Moment of Memory, Drew delved into the ramifications of technology on our memories – and, of course, how this information may be used in marketing.

Drew’s intention was to draw the audience into a deeper understanding of human memory and to challenge assumptions us marketers may have about people. This was a goal he not only achieved but surpassed.


Moments of Truth

Alright, so a little crash course here to bring you newcomers up to speed. We’ve all heard the phrase “the moment of truth”. You’ve seen it when a basketball player chooses to go for the long-shot in the final seconds to win the game instead of accepting defeat. Or when I-do’s are exchanged between betrotheds. It’s the crucial moment on which everything depends.

In marketing, there is what’s called the first and second moments of truth (FMOT & SMOT). The first being when a consumer first sees your product in store and decides to buy it (or not), and the second when said consumer decides they like (or dislike) your product. The importance of these moments are self-evident: you want the consumer to have a positive reaction each time so that your business survives and thrives.

These concepts have been great as they have helped guide the development marketing strategies allowing them to be optimized for greater success.

Before The First Moment

zmot-logoEnter Google with the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). With the rise of the Internet, consumers were making decisions before they got to the store. Before ever seeing it on the shelves, consumers often already had their minds made up. If the SMOT was subject to the FMOT, it was clear that the FMOT depended on the ZMOT. And so the cycle of moments was born. A person might read a review online about a product, head to the store to buy it, enjoy it when they used it, and then write a review themselves lauding its merits.

So far so good. Now back to, ClickZ Live Toronto with Nick Drew.

Going From Zero To First

Yahoo!’s research introduces the “zero moment of memory” (ZMOM) that suggests marketing strategies would be well-served by incorporating mobile devices at every moment in the cycle, because that’s where people are offloading their memories. You should also use photography and video to generate positive emotional responses instead of simply delivering information, because people remember what made them happy. And to tie it all together, make sure that someone can convert as soon as possible after seeing your ads.

yahoo-memory-test-zmomYou see, it turns out that the very technology that created the circumstances for the rise of ZMOT also ostensibly has an adverse effect on our ability to remember. Having the ability to take pictures and videos of events with such ease has atrophied our memory muscles. Add to that a transient attention span of about 8 seconds and you can see where a problem might develop. The longer the time between a consumer seeing your ad and then being able to purchase your product, the higher the likelihood they would misremember or even forget who you are and what you’re selling.

And so on and so forth

“Ultimately, memory relies on engagement. If we don’t pay attention to an experience of stimulus, we don’t remember it.”

Nick Drew

Drew entertained and intrigued the audience with many details in Yahoo!’s research. Did you know that taking pictures while watching a video increases a viewers engagement with it, but reduces their concentration? But since they were removed from the experience while taking pictures, they are less engaged when recalling the experience later. Neat.

For the interested, you can view Nick Drew’s prezitation online. You might also want to watch a talk he gave back in January.

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