The news came across the wire recently that Google has ventured into new territory to sell the value of their ad space and ad targeting on YouTube. Rather than the standard metrics of clicks and conversions Google is selling a new kind of metric—brain waves.

YouTube has recently been pushing overlay ads which appear in the lower portion of the window while the video is playing. Since these ads are often used for branding purpose looking at click thru measurements would not give a true picture of their impact upon the advertisers brand messaging.

To prove the efficacy of these ads, Google hired a company called NeuroFocus to conduct research measuring biometric response to the overlays through indicators such as brainwave activity, skin response, and eye tracking. The study discovered that viewers found the overlays “compelling and engaging” and that these ads generated a high amount of attention and emotional engagement for a variety of different brands and video types. In addition, including a companion banner alongside the overlay ad was found to improve brand response compared to banner ads alone.

While the research is fascinating and provides the understanding of the possible impact of this form of advertising it raises the broader question of when biological response mechanisms will be used for ad metric and targeting. Recent news of “billboards that look back at you” indicates this future might not be that far away. For a recent Search event, participants were asked to predict the “Future of Search”. Bob, trying to be both humorous and provocative, predicted that Google would roll out “Dream Words” and “Dream Sense”, new products that allowed the search giant to serve ads into our dreams. Now that Google, with help from NeuroFocus, can offer an “eye dilation” score, are Dream Words and Dream Sense that far away?

This column written by Bob Heyman and Michael Andrew of Mediasmith in San Francisco. Bob Heyman is the Chief Search Officer and coined the terms “Audience Development” for building traffic to websites and “Search Engine Optimization” (SEO). His new book, “Digital Engagement”, will be published in January by the publishing arm of the American Management Association. Michael Andrew is Director of Analytics. The Video Search column appears on Thursdays at Search Engine Land.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Video | Google: YouTube & Video | Video Search

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About The Author: is the Chief Search Officer at Mediasmith in San Francisco, and co-author of Digital Engagement, published by The American Management Association. Bob coined the terms "Audience Development" for building traffic to websites and "Search Engine Optimization" (SEO).

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