Getting Inside Your Head

Online poker company uses science to assess player preferences

The ever-innovative online poker firm is helping to fund new
neurological research in a bid to better understand consumers' online
experiences. The research is being used to shape the poker site's relaunch,
which is scheduled for next year. Working with customer experience
consultancy Foviance, PKR is exploiting the benefits of science using
electroencephalography (EEG) technology to gather information on poker
players' emotional relationship with a brand or service.

EEG works by measuring the electrical activity in parts of the brain, and
PKR is hoping to use the results of the research to provide its 2.25 million
subscribers with poker that appeals on a variety of personal levels.

Early results suggest that for the novice player, PKR offers significantly
higher levels of emotional engagement compared to competitor sites. Foviance
was also able to identify the peaks and troughs in concentration, the areas
that cause confusion for the novice player and the importance of the
tutorial stages in engaging customers. This will enable the company to focus
on what is happening at various stages of the game in order to improve
cross-marketing and up-selling opportunities.

Simon Prodger, marketing director at PKR Technologies says: "This method of
user research helps us understand the all important emotional experience
that customers go through when using our site. This is very important to PKR
as we aim to provide the most engaging poker experience online. Foviance's
insight has helped us identify how we can harness and develop the unique
aspects of PKR's engaging and immersive approach to online poker to ensure
that our customers enjoy the highest quality experience possible."

Foviance EEG measures factors ranging from cognitive and visual attention to
emotional attraction and engagement, revealing the pattern of visceral
activity during an experience. It uses an Apprehension / Excitement index to
reveal how people respond to specific incidents and allows for comparison
with other everyday activity benchmarks.

The service, developed in tandem with Neuroco is available immediately from
Foviance, which claims that neuropsychologists have shown that 85 percent of
decision making happens at a subconscious level. The company has pioneered
the use of EEG in the assessment of user experiences for commercial
purposes. By recording reactions at different stages of interaction with a
website - with emotions ranging from excitement and anticipation through to
anxiety and boredom - the researchers can provide detailed and specific site
design recommendations that improve customer conversion.

So far, Foviance has analysed the emotional responses of online poker
players, measured response to imagery alternatives on a travel site and
identified effective merchandising strategies for an online retailer.

Marty Carroll, consultancy director, Foviance said: "We recognise that
differentiation in user experience for many brands means moving beyond
simple efficiency, performance and functionality, towards connecting with
consumers emotionally. We are incredibly excited to be bringing this complex
neurological science to the marketing industry for the benefit of businesses
and consumers."

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