How can data help the creative process?

Today at the Spikes Asia festival of creativity in Singapore I listened to a man called Uwe Gutschow, the SVP of Innovation and Technology at Innocean USA.

Uwe has been doing a lot of work with MIT's pulse technology and what this work reveals is, well, quite revealing.

Neuroscientists having been telling us for some time now that 90% of human decision making is driven by emotions. Unfortunately a lot of people in marketing have been ignoring this basic truth.

Even ten years ago a Coke v Pepsi taste test that was monitored by fMRI scanners during blind tasting delivered very different findings compared to when logos were revealed. Only at that point did the emotional part of the brain light up.

So here is the problem. How people SAY they feel in research such as focus groups and what brain scanning tells us they are actually feeling can be vastly different. Which may go some way to explaining why so many politicians continually demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of real people.

Anyway, this kind of science does have its limitations. For a start, being wired up is not exactly natural.

So what Innocean has been experimenting with is some new, wire free technology that uses pulse readings and facial coding software such as MIT's Activa to identify heart rates and patterns of emotional responses.

The research is showing that these connecting patterns are in fact quite primal. It is telling us what people are really feeling in response to advertising, not what they say they are feeling.

And that's important because, after all, we in the advertising business should be architects of emotional reactions.