Bart Massa at Communication Science on the Spot

15 June 2017

On 13 June, Bart Massa, neuromarketing business manager at the Amsterdam based research agency Validators, was interviewed by lecturer Zeph van Berlo.

During the final session of Communication Science on the Spot of this academic year, organised together with the Amsterdam Research Initiative (ari), Bart elaborated on three methods used to study the brain’s response to advertising and branding: eye-tracking, facial coding and the Implicit Association Test (IAT).

Keep it simple

Eye-tracking gives insight into the viewing patterns on websites, outdoor advertising (e.g. in bus shelters) and newspapers. It can be used to measure exactly what it is that attracts people’s attention. A heat-map visually shows aggregated eye-tracking data that provides more information regarding the number of fixations and the power of various ad elements. According to Bart, an ad should include the brand’s logo, a simple lay-out (not too crowded!) and a clear font, in order to enhance brand recall.

Six emotions

However, measuring emotional effects of ads goes beyond viewing patterns. Bart explained how Validators has developed software to employ facial coding to measure the six emotions of consumers. This data can be used to predict brand effectiveness. For example, Validators has found a strong correlation between positive emotions (e.g. happiness) and brand recall.

Finally, as Validators prefers implicit methods, the Implicit Association Test is employed to examine a consumer’s attitude towards a brand’s packaging, shell segmentation or products. As many consumer decisions are taken unconsciously, it is interesting to understand these associations. Based on a prime classical decision task, respondents have to recognize real words amongst non-existing words. However, this is an extensive research method which has to take age, education and vocabulary into account.

Be bold

Based on the results, Validators is able to give their clients a visual advice. 80 percent of their clients are large international organisations, and merely 10 percent are media agencies. Since neuromarketing is a buzzword nowadays, Bart sees a bright future for the field. Nowadays, organisations are calling them asking to collaborate, instead of the other way around. As a final advice for students, Bart said to be bold: he started his own career making calls and approaching companies, so don’t be afraid to take the first step when it comes to work you really aspire.

Written by Susan Vermeer

About Bart Massa

Bart Massa has worked for Validators since 2012. This Amsterdam based research agency, whose clients include Coca-Cola, Greetz and the Red Cross, has developed a diverse range of innovative neurotechniques that can be used to measure the unconscious effects of advertising campaigns. In his role as Business Manager, Bart is responsible for helping clients answer their issues concerning communication. For example: We have a commercial that is 30 seconds in length. Which scenes can we delete to go back to 20 seconds without losing effectiveness?

See you next year!

This was the final session of Communication Science on the Spot of this academic year. The Graduate school is always searching for high-profile persons who are willing to lend their insights on the real-world values, implications, and practices of communication science. In case you have a special request for a person you would like to see on the spot, please send an e-mail to Hopefully, we will see you next year!

Published by  GSC