How do genders respond differently to critical ad elements, and how does this affect their responses to products and brands in the ad? Traditional means such as surveys, focus groups and interviews are limited in understanding millisecond responses. Therefore, other ways of understanding specific events and elements in ads were sought to provide an improved insight and predictive ability of ad testing.

What we did

We employed stationary eye-­tracking and brain scanning (EEG) while participants were watching TV drama and documentary, interspersed by ads.

We entered the ad of interest into our regular ad testing roll, the Neuromarketing Omnibus. This is a standardised method for testing ads among other ads, intermixed with documentaries, sit­com and TV drama. In the test, 40 participants were recruited and tested.The ad was about a FMCG product, where the ad included a crucial “romantic” After all participants were tested, they were also asked to complete survey questions that included surprise questions that assessed memory and preference for the different ads show. All data were analysed using our standard NeuroMetricTM analysis, including Attention, Emotion (Arousal + Motivation) and Cognitive Load. In this case report, we focus on gender differences in emotional Arousal, the intensity of emotional responses.


On average, women tended to show a higher emotional response to the ad compared to men. In particular, there was a marked difference in attention and emotional response to the product during the movie. Self­reports did not show any gender differences.

We identified two crucial elements in the ad:

1. A romantic moment, where women demonstrated a significantly stronger emotional response than men.
2. A surprise moment, where men showed a stronger Cognitive Load response, suggesting a higher degree of confusion and mental taxation.

Genders differed on a romantic moment and a surprise moment

By analysing these elements further, we found that stronger emotional response during the romantic moment predicted both a higher emotional response to the product and brand at the end of the ad, as well as a lower ad and brand memory in the subsequent memory test.

Higher Cognitive Load predicted lower emotions

Conversely, a higher Cognitive Load during the surprise moment predicted lower emotional response to the product, and an overall lower ad and brand memory in the subsequent memory test.


Together this demonstrate a clear indication that genders respond extremely different to specific elements in an ad, and that these effects can affect how genders spond to and remember crucial value propositions in the ad. In this case, the ad was equally relevant to both genders, and therefore the results demonstrated that the ad worked very well for women. For men, the ad should be improved to boost product and brand attention and emotion, which would ensure a better ad and brand memory.

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