IIeX Amsterdam 2019 Podcast Series

IIeX Europe 2019 Conference Series – Mike Storm – Neurons

Welcome to the #IIEX Europe Conference Series 2019. Recorded live in Amsterdam, this series is bringing interviews straight to you from exhibitors and speakers at this year’s event. In this interview, host Jamin Brazil interviews Mike Storm, COO at Neurons.

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IIeX Amsterdam, I’m here with Mike the COO of hold on, wait for it, there we go, Neurons. That’s actually a pretty heady—


That’s pretty catchy, isn’t it? (Laughs.)


(Laughs.) It is.


It was a good name. (Laughs.)


I am surprised Neurons, Inc. was available. That’s pretty good. So, your business has been around about six years.


That is correct.


And you had mentioned to me you’ve been there five. Tell me a little bit about what you guys are doing.


Neurons, Inc. is what you would call a consumer neuron science company, meaning that we work with insides of the consumer. We do it with a very specific methodology of synchronizing EEG brain scanning and eye tracking. Meaning that we can adapt to various different touch points of the consumer being everything from marketing and advertising testing to website and retail testing and finally, of course, the final product and packaging. That’s what we’re doing.


I did eye tracking back in, and this is aging me a little bit, but in 2000, for Disney and ESPN, specifically. So, early web stuff, it was a process and a tremendous amount of gear in order to set it up, right?


That’s right.


It was quite literally like building Frankenstein. I just was at your booth and was admiring the hardware. So, it’s gotten lightweight—


It’s gotten so much better. Honestly, both the science behind it, the hardware, the software, the precision, everything has just been improved so much over the last 10 years that we’ve gotten to space where we can even test people in moving environments. Meaning that people can actually walk in a store with an EEG and eye trackers on, and we can follow not only what they do, but also what they see and what they feel. It means that you can tap into the mind of your consumers, and get some insights because sometimes, it’s not because we believe consumers want to lie, we just believe it’s hard, sometimes, to both remember what I just did, remember what I felt when I did it, and think about what I’m going to do soon. Therefore, having predictable tools and tools that can actually break things into second by second, emotional and cognitive levels, we just think that’s a whole new era of things that you need to look into.


I totally agree with you. I’m a quantitative researcher by trade. What you say is often times not getting to the actual purchase intent or— So that I think the ability for observed data to get connected to self-reported data is very powerful. Coupling that with, as you just said, being able to garner those insights in the context of an experience. You and I could be sitting here having a conversation, I could, which is very common, scroll through my feed quickly and see an ad. That context of the ad consumption needs to be taken into consideration, and so being able to passively garner my reaction to that ad is, I think, powerful. What kind of companies are using your services.


We’re mainly working with some of the larger companies in both Europe and the U.S. Fortune hundreds and people thereabout. It’s very much in various different spaces, because the consumer journey is important for all of these companies, and some might only be a website experience but still having that website optimized for whatever need it is, very important. The same for their marketing strategy. They want to know their campaigns are actually working on Facebook or on a website, and on TV for that sake. It’s a broad part of clients we have, but the biggest part is in technology, in clients like Google, Facebook, and others. Then, also in retail like in IKEA, Tesco, and people like that. Finally, for product providers that can be anything from Estée Lauder, Hershey’s, and so forth. It means all of these are some of our very well-established clients.


Do you have a favorite project?


We have been doing quite a few very interesting projects. We put our strategy a little bit around right now to making more simple protocolized and straight forward for the client to understand how to use these kinds of insights. It can be very difficult when you talk brain scanning and eye tracking to understand where should I apply this. Prior to doing that we’ve been doing a lot of interesting research. One of them was actually published stuff that we’d done together with Facebook where we tested people’s responses to meeting the first time in virtual reality versus in real life, and here we have found some strong evidence that introverts have a much more calm and interest in emotionally in meeting with people while not seeing them in person for the first time. It also made them want to meet the person afterwards. Meaning that virtual reality can bring a whole new experience to the world, that was tested with brain scanning and the understanding of eye tracking.


That’s very interesting stuff. That’s funny, intuitively I never put that together, but it’s exactly correct. The opportunity to build that relationship… Meeting somebody cold in real life versus cold online is a completely different risk element to it, so that’s a fascinating project. Thanks for sharing that. What is the size of engagement? What does a project look like in terms of cost with you guys?


It’s interesting because we have put together— The minimum sample size that you need for EEG and eye tracking is about 30 people, so you need about 30 completes within a sample or segment to be able to replicate across the same sample. Meaning that it could predict for certain culture, a certain region, or anything like that. If you want to test different segments, you, of course, need to go larger. We have changed our approach a bit. Meaning that you can now with just advertising with brain scanning and eye tracking all the way down to around 5,000 Euros for a single access. Meaning this is becoming interesting. If you want to kick it off ad hoc and some place in the world it’s still less than 15,000 Euros. There’s a huge change to what the cost is for doing this. Just half a year ago, our cost started at 25,000 Euro meaning that we’ve optimized our processes to be able to accommodate what the clients need today. They want quick answers and precise answers.


How long does a project usually take?


It takes everything from five days now up until months. It depends on the specifics of the certain project. An ad test, if we do like a TV ad test, from kicking off the data collection until final report, can be just around five days. Meaning that things have revved up a lot. Academically, we were looking at six months to do something like that.


Do you think there’s an opportunity for you to be more of the technology provider to, I’ll call it a TNS, and then they would do the analytic piece of it?


That’s a good question—


That is a good question.


We do work together with both TNS and Ispos so we are doing stuff with both these companies and being their partners in certain ways where they need it. We could definitely see a way that we could provide knowledge inside benchmarks and data-driven parts of that. Both in terms of hardware, software, and also the knowledge. Then they add on the client knowledge to the interpretation of the actual test.


How’s IIeX working for you?


IIeX, this is one of our fours. We love this conference. It’s specific about what people are here for. They’re here for the new thing. They’re here to see how do we get inside from our customers, and it’s just even better this year. Bigger, better. I’m looking forward to the rest of this one. We’re also in Austin, so we’re looking forward to that one too.


Yes, that will be great. I’m excited. Now are you guys speaking at this one or in Austin?


We’re not speaking at any of them this year. We spoke last year, but hopefully next year.


We’ve got to make that happen. Mike, thanks so much for being on Happy Market Research podcast.


Thank you very much.