DETROIT -- Nielsen is much more than a TV ratings stalwart these days.
As I walked through the Ford exhibit at the Detroit auto show last month, experts at a division of the company called Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience had me outfitted with biometric sensors and a pair of glasses that tracked the movement of my eyes as they darted around the environment until locking in on the GT.
The Nielsen team was there to measure my physiological responses to these and other vehicles, the first time the company had applied these methods in an auto show setting.
While Nielsen has traditionally used neuroscience technology to help brands gauge how well advertising resonates with consumers at a non-conscious level, the company is looking to expand into new areas. The technology has been tested during car clinics where people provide insights on new vehicles after looking at full-scale models or 2D or 3D renderings, and it also has potential uses in distracted-driving experiments to measure attention levels, said Carl Marci, chief neuroscientist of Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience.
The eye-tracking glasses picked up a clear viewing pattern early on with the GT that would continue throughout the day: I'm drawn to the front of vehicles.
With the GT, my eyes consistently zipped back and forth between the front lights and wheels as I took in the contours in that area. The front of a vehicle -- the grille in particular -- is where designers send their boldest messages, so I tend to assign a lot of value there when determining whether a car looks good.