Even though many people will tune in to see whether the Broncos or Panthers will be the next Super Bowl champ, chances are the advertisements are just as big an attraction as the game. Some Texas Tech researchers are using some cutting-edge research to find out exactly why some ads work, and some don’t.

Dr. Glenn Cummins and Dr. Paul Bolls are both with the Center for Communication Research at Texas Tech, and they’re using their psychophysiology lab to study how people’s brains process and respond to ads. Their research will be using a science called neuromarketing, which looks at how the brain responds to advertising messages.

“The Super Bowl is the world’s largest stage for creative television advertising,” Bolls said. “Our research takes a more scientific look at what makes a great Super Bowl ad and how viewers respond to advertising.”

With a 30-second ad in this year’s Super Bowl costing around $5 million dollars, Cummins said that research is a crucial part of creating ads that work.

“Every ad you’ll see during the game has been tested in some form or fashion, and there are a lot of ways that companies do this,” Cummins said. “What we are particularly interested in is the difference between what people say they think about an ad versus what their brain is actually telling us. Sometimes it’s the same, and sometimes it’s not.”

To study Super Bowl ads, the researchers bring viewers into their lab at Texas Tech and then use small sensors to measure their body’s response to what they are seeing.

That information lets them scientifically test how this cutting-edge type of research compares with other ways of measuring an ads impact.

“This is a perfect example of where the academic community and the industry can find some common ground,” Bolls said. “Although we’re most interested in testing theories about human communication, there’s an obvious benefit to the advertising industry from what we find.”

The researchers will launch their next study soon after Super Bowl Sunday, and they invite the public to take part. To learn more about how to get involved, contact them by phone or email.

CONTACT: Glenn Cummins, Director, Center for Communication Research,
College of Media & Communication, Texas Tech University, (806) 834-3117 or

(Press Release from Texas Tech College of Media & Communication)