Putting Consumers' Bodies to Work: The Role of consumer Biometrics and Measurement Devices in the Performance of Markets for Advertising Communications

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Using an actor-­network-­theoretical approach, this paper studies the emergence and social-­economic effects of various biometrical methods in the area of marketing research from the 1890s to the 1990s. The spill-­over of biometrical research from advertising psychological laboratories set in motion a
cycle of performativity that ended up rendering the relationship between advertisements and consumers similar to that which had been constructed in the laboratory purely for research purposes. Advertisements in ‘real’ markets were increasingly designed in ways that fulfilled the predictions that advertising psychologists had made. In these markets, representations of consumers and their behaviour began to take on a life of their own and allowed markets for consumer attention to be enacted. In that process, consumers’ bodies became increasingly reconfigured as walking measurement instruments. This reconfiguration enabled researchers and advertising practitioners to bypass consumers’ cognition and instead draw upon the ‘truth’ of their physiological reactions in order to create norms of accountability. These norms, in turn, allowed quantifiable market relations to be created around inherently qualitative, aesthetic experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 38th Annual Macromarketing Conference, Toronto, 2013
EditorsDetlev Zwick, Sammy Bonsu
Place of Publicationwww
PublisherThe Macromarketing Society
Publication date2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventThe 38th Annual Conference of the Euroepan Marketing Academy - Nantes, France
Duration: 1 May 20091 May 2009
Conference number: 38


ConferenceThe 38th Annual Conference of the Euroepan Marketing Academy
SeriesProceedings of the Annual Macromarketing Conference

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