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This Is Your Brain on Advertising

Neuromarketers use sophisticated brain-imaging technology to test consumer response and help clients fine-tune their strategies

Do you ever get the creepy feeling that advertisers know how to put a lump in your throat, inspire subconscious brand loyalty, or make your mouth water? Just wait: It could get worse. An emerging technique called neuromarketing that uses brain scans to measure human response to promotional messages is starting to catch on in Europe—and soon ads may become even more effective at prompting you to pull out your wallet.

Orwellian, perhaps. But for companies looking to fine-tune their promotions and boost sales, neuromarketing offers the enticing prospect of a quantitative way to test the subconscious effectiveness of ads, jingles, and logos before spending big bucks on media placements. That's a godsend for marketers wary of the sometimes unreliable results of focus groups and other field testing.