fMRI in neuromarketing

fMRI is the only technique that is able to capture the consumers' complete decision-making process.

  • The best technique for predicting consumer behavior

  • Provides a complete picture of the impact from marketing communications

  • Scalable and affordable



fMRI Neuromarketing - What is fMRI?

What is fMRI?

Functional Magnetic Resconance Imaging (fMRI) is a neuro-research technique that allows us to track detailed activity of the entire brain. 

fMRI captures both conscious and unconscious emotions and responses happening deep within the brain in order to predict consumer behaviour.

Currently, Neurensics is one of the few companies in the world using this technique.  Specialized neuroscientists are employed at Neurensics to perform this complex imaging technique and analyse its results.

Want to know the details?


How fMRI works

fMRI measures activity deep inside the brain and captures the human subject's (un)conscious emotions and reactions.

The MRI scan uses a strong magnetic field that creates a 3D image of the brain. A fMRI scan captures brain activity through the blood oxygen levels in neurons. Neurons which are active consume more oxygen than inactive ones. If neurons were active, it will be reflected on the scan.

With fMRI, you can capture detailed activity of the entire brain - no other technique is capable of doing this.




Neuromarketing - relevant dimensions for consumer behaviour


The benefits of fMRI

fMRI offers many advantages for predicting consumer behaviour:

  1. fMRI is the best neuromarketing technique for predicting consumer behaviour, such as buying behaviour and sales (hard KPIs).

    Consumer behaviour is mainly determined by emotions and brain processes, many of which happens under conscious awareness. fMRI is the only technique that measures it all: conscious and unconscious emotions, thoughts and reason.

  2. fMRI offers the most complete picture on the effects from marketing communications.

    Activity from emotion, cognition, and arousal are distributed across the brain. A complete picture of the consumer can only be made if all these different processes are captured. This is possible with fMRI as it produces a 3D image of the whole brain activity.  

  3. fMRI measures the immediate, automatic responses to marketing communications; resembling people's reactions in real life.

    In traditional marketing research, test participants are given a prompt and asked to formulate an opinion. This method of surveying opinions leads to post-rationalization - participants verbalize rationalizations for their opinions which may not be related to their own emotions or cognitive process at all. Studies have repeatedly shown that people are unable to accurately report what they think, want or like. In contrast, fMRI captures the emotions and cognitive processes directly by measuring brain activity.

  4. Neurensics has made fMRI research scalable and affordable.

    Within 5 business days you'll receive more informative results for the same investment as traditional research.

What is fMRI used for?

  • Neuro Ad Testing
    fMRI measures the unconscious emotions and reactions activated by your ads.  The measurements are judged against established benchmark for effective advertising. This allows you to optimize your ads and if possible, reduce ad-spending by cutting out unnecessary advertising time. 

  • Neuro Concept Testing
    fMRI measures which unconscious emotions and reactions your ad concept activates, allowing you to optimize your ad to maximize ROI before your ad goes live.

  • NeuroBranding
    With fMRI we can create a Neuro Brand Signature: the pattern of neural associations in the brain of the consumer, unique to your brand.
    This can be used to test the direct influence from your marketing communications on associations made in your customer's brain. 

  • NeuroPackaging
    fMRI measures the influence of your packaging on purchase intention. 




NeuroBranding - Hoe worden merkassociaties gemeten_ fMRI scans Engels-1


MRI Neuromarketing Eye Tracking analysis


fMRI combined with Eye Tracking and BGI

At Neurensics, we combine fMRI with Eye Tracking and Brain Guided Interpretation (BGI) to obtain additional valuable information.

  • Eye Tracking
    To further add value to the fMRI scan, Eye Tracking is used. This measures what people are focused on, for how long and in what order.

    It measures which specific elements in a marketing message attracts attention. Eye Tracking uses infrared (IR) sensors that locate and track the position of the eye.

    In combination with fMRI, you can get insights to features people are paying attention towards and their experiences.

  • Brain Guided Interpretation (BGI)
    Similarly, we also use BGI to add value to the fMRI findings. This is an online follow-up study allowing us to add qualitative depth to the fMRI results.

    Through BGI, we obtain in-depth information about the activated emotions and reactions and valuable information about explicit KPIs, such as brand linkage and message delivery. 

Limitations of fMRI?

Every research technique has its limitations. Here are the limitations of fMRI:

  1. fMRI is measured in a lab environment, which can have a negative effect on test participants. 

  2. fMRI is often thought to be expensive because the MRI scanner costs millions of dollars. 

  3. fMRI has a coarser time resolution as it makes a complete scan every 2 seconds. Therefore, we can't pinpoint the precise moment when a brain region responds towards a marketing message. 

How does Neurensics solve these limitations?

Our solutions:

  1. Despite the lab setting, scientific research has shown that fMRI remains the best predictor of consumer behavior. The possible negative effects of the lab environment are substantially small as compared to the large added value of measuring (un)conscious emotions and reactions.

  2. Neurensics has made fMRI research affordable by scaling. We often measure multiple test subjects in one imaging session. This lowers the costs to an amount comparable to traditional research. 

  3. We have developed an algorithm that allows us to pinpoint when a a brain region responds towards a marketing message. We do this in two different ways - 1) by looking at the balance between the positive and negative emotions, 2) by using Brain Guided Interpretation (questionnaires) after the scan to gain more insights on the fMRI results.


Discover how fMRI helped Tele2 (Dutch telecom company)

  • Neuro Ad Testing

    How to win an award for effective advertising?

    Tele2 wanted to optimize their TV ads to change their brand image. They used Neuro Ad Testing and gained necessary insights. As an added bonus, through optimizing their ads based on our advice, they won the Silver Effie Award: the award for effective campaigns. Go to their case and check it out.

    "Through Neuro Ad Testing, we quickly got the insights we needed to optimize our ads. As a result, we were able to successfully change our image in a short period of time. And, the research contributed to a nice reward: the award for effective campaigns 'Effie behavioral campaign short'."

    Machiel van de Poll, Senior Customer Insights Manager, Tele2

Get in touch

Andries van der Leij

Head of Research & Development

Do you want to know more about fMRI or other techniques?

Andries van der Leij Neurensics

Walter Limpens

Senior Client Executive

Do you want to know more about the research possibilities?

Walter Limpens Neurensics

Do you want to know more about the neuromarketing techniques we use? Don't hesitate and contact Andries.

Andries van der Leij Neurensics

Andries van der Leij


Start a project

Want to know what Neurensics can do for you? Don't hesitate and contact Walter.

Walter Limpens Neurensics

Walter Limpens


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