In the pre Christmas (holidays to you, Gareth) rush, you might have missed this major U-turn by the lovely folks at Millward Brown research (the people who brought you the "awareness index" a key metric that assumes that advertising achieves its effect primarily by impacting memory - awareness and recall).
Suddenly - after years of dissing those like my chums at Brainjuicer - who dared to suggest that emotions were the key to advertising effectiveness, the folk we used to know as The Leamington Spa Gang have turned 180 degrees. Apparently, emotion is everything or pretty much everything.
Nice to have you aboard, chaps. Will you be dumping AI scores then?
Last night at a reception in memory of the late and great Ginny Valentine, an old buddy of mine asked me what I thought about the proliferation of neuromarketing techniques and the general air of "brain is best" in market research communities.
Perhaps I should have just referred him to David Penn of Conquest who is delighting in being the continuing scourge of snake-oil neuro-research sales persons: his "neuromania" schtick is coming to the MRS in March. Always good value.
Regular readers will know that - like David - I'm deeply suspicious of the willing misrepresentation of the science - of what is currently understood about brain activity and its relationship with behaviour (for example here and here)
Sure, we've got some general principles in place, we've far from the precise, mechanical descriptions that many vendors suggest.
What's more the reality of most human life - and most consumer choices - is social (whether or not the choice is made in the company of others): in much of modern life, we defer to the choices and enthusiasms of others. Trying to predict the behaviour of an isolated individual from the activity in his/her brain is missing the key variable shaping that choice.
Our brains are not - as we tend to think - just independent decision-making muscle - but rather evolved specifically as social organs (as Dunbar and Humphrey long ago demonstrated - you might remember this more recent paper, too)
This is why this kind of research is so interesting: it explores the neuroscience of social interaction. Dare I suggest put neuromarketing on hold until the academics have got to grips with these - rather more important - factors in influencing behaviour?
I speak at a lot of conferences and gatherings and such like. Undoubtedly the best of these are the Do Lectures, held in a field in "a small clever country called Wales".
This is my picture from my visit a couple of years ago as a speaker (I went back last year as an audience member) and this is the speech I gave.
You should go, too.
Not because of what your ticket does for other people (it helps pay for the free-to-air archive of 200 going on 1000 videos of Do Lectures and it also makes sure that there's another interesting person to spend the days and evenings chatting to).
But because of what your ticket does for you.
All the ideas and thoughts and enthusiasm you'll get.
And how things will be different aftewards.
Get yourself to the Spring Do's - applications close 27th Feb.
As regular readers will know, we're big fans of the application of network theory to understanding human behaviour - as Paul Ormerod pointed out here, the influence on our behaviour of the networks in which we live is likely to be significantly greater than any of the cognitive quirks that the psychologists and Behavioural economists are obsessed by.
However, there are a number of common basic errors in applying network theory to human phenomenon which it's worth watching out for.
For example, I was prompted in the aftemath of Davos to re-read this piece from New Scientist about how a small number of financial institutions are much more "influential" than others over the global economy - strictly speaking they may well be hyper-connected in the period covered by the data but connected is not influential.