When testing mobile and other devices, it is crucial to detect wear­out and frustration. But getting a firm understanding the “breaking point” of when mobile delays cause negative emotions and stress cannot be achieved by traditional research methods. Instead, applied neuroscience methods has the appropriate temporal resolution to determine, with a millisecond accuracy, how people respond to delays or fluent mobile connections.

What we did

Mobile eye­tracking and neuroimaging (EEG), including the NeuroEquityTM test of unconscious brand emotions.

Client examples

Each participant was given a set of tasks to perform on a smartphone, including visiting web pages and watching online videos. Crucial to the experiment, we manipulated web page
and video loading in such a way that one group experienced moderate delays, another group had long delays, and a control group had no delays on web and video content.

All participants were provided with the name of the service provider that was responsible for the connection they used. This allowed us to vary and test the effects of mobile delays on consumer responses to service provider brands.

This allowed us to look at specific responses and effects of delays:
1. The effects of delay on cognitive stress, and how this influenced emotional responses to the actual content
2. The effects of delays on brand emotions for the service provider (mobile connection company) – as well as for the content provider (YouTube)


In this study, we identified key delay­related drivers of consumer stress and frustration, and reduction in emotional responses to the actual content. Web delays exceeding 4 seconds
demonstrated a significant increase in cognitive stress, and a similar drop in emotional motivation responses to the content shown. This demonstrates that for the group tested (in Denmark) there was indeed a specific “breaking point” of mobile stress, and that such stress had a detrimental effect on the perception and processing of the content shown.

Using the NeuroEquityTM test, we also found that mobile delays had a detrimental effect on a company’s brand equity and consumers’ unconscious emotions. If consumers had a bad
experience with a particular service provider, we saw that emotional responses to that brand dropped significantly after the test.
In addition, we found that long delays in video content produced a net negative effect on consumers’ brand emotions towards the content provider. That is, if consumers experienced delays while watching YouTube videos, their emotional responses to the YouTube brand dropped significantly afterwards.

These results demonstrate the importance of using applied neuroscience to study the specific etails of mobile delays. The study also highlights the crucial need for a strong connection, and that even for content providers such as YouTube, Netflix and Hulu, a strong and undisturbed connection is vital for the optimal emotional response to the content, and to their brand.

  • “Web delays exceeding 4 seconds demonstrated a significant increase in cognitive stress, and a similar drop in emotional motivation responses to the content shown.“

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