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Brain hacking studies suggest subliminal web ads may soon be for sale

(MARKETING NEWS) In an experiment, a team of researchers were able to gauge reactions to subliminal images, reading the participant’s thoughts and feelings. Creeped out yet?



brain hacking subliminal ads

Subliminal messages

No, this isn’t an episode of Black Mirror. Brain hackers are real.

Speaking at the University of Washington, electrical engineering researcher Tamara Bonaci described an experiment in which subliminal images were periodically displayed during a simple video game. The images, logos of fast food restaurants and car companies, were displayed for a few milliseconds at a time, not long enough that someone playing the game would be disrupted by them.


Data through reaction

Through electrodes connected to the player’s head that measured electroencephalography signals, the team of researchers could then gauge how the player reacted to the subliminal images and read the player’s thoughts and feelings about the things that were depicted.

In the experiment, the players wore a complicated system of electrodes, but Bonaci says it would not be hard for similar data to be pulled from a VR headset, smart watch or other wearable tech. The process could also be used to sense reactions to things other than just brands, such as religious beliefs, political leanings, medical conditions, and prejudices.

They could get data on religious beliefs, political leanings, medical conditions, & prejudices.Click To Tweet

Real life applications

Science aside, the idea is relatively simple. On one level, hackers could insert images like these into a game or app and record your brain’s unintentional response to them, perhaps gaining insight into which brands you’re familiar with or which images you have a strong reaction to.

It could be used to determine which bank someone uses, where they are planning to travel, or perhaps even where their home is.

There are also advertising applications, providing even more specific information about potential consumers than existing data ever could. Imagine a political candidate wants to only advertise to a small group of people they know feel negatively about them. Images related to the candidate or campaign could be flashed subliminally in a VR headset and reactions could be pulled. The candidate could then just target a specific group who had negative physical reactions.

Similar methods could be used to gauge social or political stances on issues, determine who might have a certain physical ailment, or simply build a database of consumers with negative feelings towards a brand that should be advertised to more heavily.

Don’t freak out just yet

At the moment, the method is a few steps away from “mind reading,” since it is not always easy to tell what a reaction or signal means. However, just the fact that we’re able to get people’s responses to images without them knowing they’re providing data is a huge, potentially dangerous, breakthrough.

This is a huge, potentially dangerous breakthrough.Click To Tweet

Bonaci says there is no such evidence of brain hacking of this nature happening in the real world yet. The scariest part though is that when it does arrive, we may not even know it.


Brian is a Staff Writer at The Real Daily who lives in Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, and majored in American Culture Studies and Writing. Originally from California, ​Brian ​has a podcast, "Revolves Around Me," and ​enjoys public transportation,​ bicycles,​​ the beach​.

Real Estate Marketing

One company tricked people into swiping an Instagram ad – creative or unethical?

(MARKETING) An Instagram ad is pretty clever and tricked many people into swiping, but will it work for your brand?



tricky advertisement instagram ad

As ads become increasingly taboo, advertisers are forced to come up with sneakier, more obnoxious ways to trick people into viewing their content, especially as the cost for them to advertise rises. While plenty of advertising techniques fit the bill, a Chinese shoe company’s strategy might just take the cake for trickiest ad of all time.

The Instagram ad itself is innocuous enough at first glance: it features a picture of a sneaker with a discounted price, along with a “Shop Now” swipe-up prompt at the bottom of the ad. What makes it so friggin’ devious is an image of a hair laid on top of the whole image. The obvious intent here is to encourage the viewer to try to brush away the hair, thus inadvertently swiping up the Instagram ad and viewing its content.

Regardless of who you are or what you’ve been through in life, you have to admit that this is objectively hilarious.

The intent behind the ad is a bit confusing, though. One of the main points of advertising is to get people on your page – a goal that this ad technically meets – but the last type of person that you want on your page is a disgruntled, embarrassed, and most likely furious consumer who can’t believe that they got bamboozled. That kind of traffic doesn’t exactly lend itself to positive growth and customer satisfaction, which should be the end goal of premiere advertising.

Putting aside the inherent ridiculousness of this situation, there’s a lesson to be learned here: advertising, no matter how socially unappreciated it is, is still an art form, but modern proficiency in it is much less about duping your audience than it has been in the past.

Instead, successful ads are creating positive customer engagement and facilitating conversation – and a fake hair over a picture of discounted sneakers doesn’t really meet that goal.

If you’re looking for some resolution from this story, Instagram noted that the ad was taken down and the company in question was banned from advertising on Instagram in the future, which you can take as empirical proof that devious advertising is falling out of favor.

Then again, we just spent an entire piece giving the company free exposure, so who knows?

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Real Estate Marketing

Quokka: Retargeting ads for people who ignored your email

(MARKETING) A new startup named after our favorite animal amplifies your ad efforts even after being ignored. Sweet!




Potential customers who ignore your emails just aren’t the obstacle that they used to be. If you’re tired of sending out countless emails and receiving nothing in response, Quokka’s ad retargeting service may be the solution for you.

Aside from having the objectively cutest animal of all time as their namesake, Quokka allows you to follow up with people who don’t respond to your initial emails. Instead of firing off an additional email, however, Quokka’s response is a bit subtler: it shows retargeting ads to the offending customer. This method gives your product or service a second chance without giving the customer the opportunity to bin your follow-up email sans a read.

Quokka also provides you with statistics regarding how many emails were sent out, how many were opened, and how many customers are available for retargeting based on those numbers. This information is provided on an email-by-email basis in their easy-to-use interface.

Once you’ve allowed a certain amount of time to pass, you can plug your mailing list into Quokka and select a platform on which you want to display the retargeting ads. Quokka will determine who on your mailing list didn’t open the email and then show them your ad on your selected platform (e.g., Facebook). While social media ads haven’t been faring particularly well as of late, we may see Quokka find its niche in other marketing venues.

As it sits, Quokka plugs into your Facebook, MailChimp, and Campaign Monitor services. Based on comments from the platform’s founder, Quokka’s future includes additional integration with existing marketing platforms. Ideally, Quokka will eventually be usable with the bulk of mailing services and marketing automation, but getting the app to that point will undoubtedly take some time.

2018 marketing practices already look like they’re going to have to evolve away from some of the pre-established paradigms, and Quokka appears to be one appropriate answer to the underlying “How?” question here. As customers become more suspicious of ads in their inboxes and ad-blocking software use continues to grow, services such as Quokka may be viable solutions for those hoping to reach the most stubborn demographic.

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Real Estate Marketing

Boatloads of webinars, resources to kickstart your 2018 sales goals

(MARKETING) RPR has unleashed a ton of resources to make sure 2018 is your best sales year yet – and you’ve already paid for it, so take advantage.



rpr resources for sales goals

Most professionals are setting sales goals for 2018, and are seeking the resources to help get them there. Realtors most certainly are with the changes in the market for more homes to sell, more millennials possibly ready to buy, and most certainly tax reform changes to the game.

Fortunately, if you’re feeling a lack of inspiration to determine how you’re going to reach those goals – Realtors Property Resource (RPR) is putting together a few webinars to help you work smarter and pick up a few new tricks.

While of course, the highlight of the trainings focus on the use of RPR mobile app, they should promise to offer important information. The 4 Part series “4 Steps to Real Estate Success with RPR Mobile” for example, focuses on capturing leads, better communicate information in a listing, capturing open house leads, and improving the buyer tour experience. That series begins on February 21st, and continues weekly for a month.

Realtors unfamiliar with RPR should know that the app is included in National Association of Realtors (NAR) dues, and if you don’t know about it, your first webinar should be focused on getting to know the app, and see how it can help support your business by locating information. That particular webinar can be found here.

Additional topics focus on things from perfect pricing, pre-listing checklist, reigning in buyers, and creating relocation packets – all things that can be done to help facilitate a smoother selling process and help get you more results easier.

This particularly packet of resources should be useful to both realtors who aren’t familiar with the RPR tools, but also maybe the user who hasn’t leveraged the resource quite to its full extent. Most webinars are offered at least 2-3 times, so there are plenty of opportunities to attend a session. RPR also has a number of other resources including articles, social media information, graphics, and handouts for member use. Of particular place for inspiration is the Realtor case studies, where app skeptics may see how the use of RPR can apply to their real world realtor-ing.

Ultimately, this is just one of many possible resources, but if you’re looking to try a few new things to kickstart your sales in 2018, and are looking for tools to help you reach more lofty goals, some free education (that you already paid for, NAR members!), this is a great head start.

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