July 21, 2016
No doubt we were once smell-centric hominids, largely due to our brain’s amygdala. And the part of the amygdala in which we process scent is among the most primitive parts of our brain, and has led evolutionary psychologists and smell scientists (no, really, they exist) to conclude that we were once far better smellers and far poorer see-ers.
We know you’re probably thinking, “how does this relate to video marketing trends?” Well, as marketers, it’s important to understand how your customers think and perceive the content you present to them.
Fast forward to 2016 when we woke up and realized that here we are, hyper-sight-centric homo sapiens who have evolved to privilege vision above each of our other senses. Marketers the planet over, who are now talking trends, identify key things such as:
- The shift toward branded video content,
- More and longer videos on home pages and product pages,
- An increased use of animated GIFs on social media, and
- Real time storytelling via Live-Stream Social.
Do you see the commonality?
Vision is now our paradigmatic perceptual sense―both in marketing and in life. So much so, in fact, that if you search “which sense would you give up?” you get dozens of articles and forum posts, and a vast majority of individuals saying they would give up their sense of smell (see Rachel Herz’s work to renew your faith in smell) or once in awhile, their taste or hearing.
In the 1970s and 80s, scientists started debating our preferences for vision, arguing this was biasing our studies and thus our findings, which was biasing our understandings of humanity. The most important of these scientists started arguing that we needed to examine the ways in which human sensory experience overlapped, the ways in which our senses are interdependent, which is how we got, for example, the McGurk Effect and McGurk’s aptly titled article, Hearing lips and seeing voices.
But the call for study of interwoven sensual experiences has been challenged since its beginning. Scientists Dustin Stokes and Steven Biggs argued, notably, that sight is, in fact, special. Special, they said, in that it dominates the other senses:
Quite roughly, the visual dominates another sense S, say audition, with respect to property P if the visual asymmetrically affects how auditory stimuli that are relevant to identifying P are processed, where the effect is asymmetric in that the auditory has no comparable effect on how visual stimuli that are relevant to identifying P are processed. We find that the visual dominates with respect to a wide range of properties in psychologically and epistemically significant ways, such that the dominance of the visual partly explains why we can rightly say that vision is special.
Scratch and sniff video, of course, could someday change this contemporary fact. Meanwhile our marketing, like ourselves, will remain vision-centric.