Neuroscience in Advertising: Making the :15 the New :30

August 5, 2013

The :15 second TV commercial has a lot in common with cubic zirconium—a cheaper and lower quality “look-alike” that is almost instantly recognizable by anyone as anything but the real thing.

Often treated as an afterthought by Marketers and Agencies alike, the :15 TV spot is usually just a cut down version of the :30, rarely copy tested, but assumed to be at least 50% as good as the :30 from which it’s derived.

But the truth is that most Marketers have no idea how good, or bad, their :15’s really are. It’s as if everyone just blindly assumes the best, without thinking about the worst. Fifteen second ads adhere to the same basic principles of success as :30’s, but just get much less attention.

An Improvement — Real Time :15 vs. :30 Optimization

Things have improved somewhat over the past few years. With the advent of real time TV ad effectiveness measurement, Marketers can now monitor the performance of their :30’s and :15’s on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, so they can understand relative differences in performance.

This enables you to see when your 15’s perform well enough to warrant moving out of your :30’s and into 100% focus on your :15’s. But all of this is after the fact. What’s really needed is better :15 design beforehand. But how?

Neuroscience & Copy Testing

Neuroscience has had any number of fits and starts over the past few years when applied to Marketing. But one area where there has been substantial and undeniable progress is in the area of copy testing. Possibly the most advanced technique uses EEG measures of brain activity to understand how viewers are responding to advertising. This approach uses EEG to identify and capture responses to brain stimuli in fractions of a second.

In particular, EEG based copy testing can measure three things extremely well:

  1. Attention – When and how much viewer attention is paid to an ad. This is key to knowing if someone even notices or pays attention to your ad in the first place.
  2. Memory – Whether a viewers memory is activated in response to viewing an ad. Without memory, it’s unlikely that an ad will influence much future behavior.
  3. Emotion – To what degree a viewer is drawn to or pulls away from the ad stimulus. Attention and memory are important, but so is positive emotional attraction.

Taken together, these three measures are key to effective ads. They relate directly to whether someone pays attention to the ad, whether the ad is stored in long term memory, and whether the ad elicits a positive emotional response.

Importantly, EEG based copy testing measures viewer’s brain waves in milliseconds throughout the commercial. Typically, a viewer’s brain waves looks like a series of peaks and valleys as the viewer responds to different parts of the commercial. These peaks and valleys correspond to the parts of the commercial that are most and least effective as measured by attention, memory and emotion.

The Optimal :15 TV Spot

Back to the :30 vs. :15 conundrum: how do you design a better :15 TV spot? Well, it’s not as difficult as rocket science, but it’s essentially an exercise in brain wave assessment. Simply put, you cut out the ads “valleys” and keep the “peaks.”

Neuroscience based copy testing has advanced to the point where it can algorithmically eliminate the weakest portions of the :30 TV commercial while keeping the strongest ones for the new :15. This re-cut commercial is then edited by the Agency creatives for story flow, continuity, and visual seamlessness into a final spot.

The Neuroscience Based :15 TV Commercial – How Good ?

At this point, you might be asking: “but how good, really, are these cut down neuroscience based ads? It all sounds like a big black box.”

Based on Nielsen NeuroFocus (disclosure: I work at Nielsen) testing of both original :30 TV spots and the EEG-optimized :15’s, here is what we see:

  • ~90% of neuroscience optimized :15 ads test just as well as their :30 counterparts
  • A significant number of optimized :15 ads actually test better than their :30 counterparts

Upside for Marketers

So, the next time you see your Ad Agency, tell them that you have a “present” for them—neuroscience-based :15’s. They’re definitely a lot more valuable than regular “cubic zirconium” :15’s and, more importantly, viewers will respond as if they’re :30 “diamonds in the rough.”

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How Your Brand Can Benefit From “Ownership” Media

September 6, 2010
What do Bose, HSBC and Boeing all have in common? On the surface, not much, but all three brands “own” a slice of media. Not just any media, but a specific media touch point over an extended period of time. Should your brand do the same?

 

3 Examples of “Ownership” Media

Bose / Parade — If you’ve read the Sunday Parade magazine over the years, you’ve no doubt seen the full page Bose ad on the back inside cover. Bose has “owned” this space for years; if you were reading the magazine, you could almost predict with the turn of the last page that you would find—presto—the Bose ad. 

Bose in Parade -- An Example of Ownership Media

Hong Kong Shanghai Bank / Jet Way — HSBC took a different track, deciding to “own” the jet ways that passengers use to board planes. They started this approach with the original perspectives campaign, which juxtaposed two very different points of view about the same topic or item. More recently, they moved to a new campaign, but what remains the same is their ownership of the jet way. 

HSBC -- "Ownership" Media via Jetways

Boeing / Meet The Press — Boeing found its slice of media ownership in the on-line version of “Meet the Press.” If you miss the show in linear TV as I often do, check out David Gregory on-line, and before you meet the press, you meet the corporate Boeing ad. Different week, different ads, different guest. But the one constant on “Meet the Press” is the Boeing brand. 

"Ownership" Media: "Meet The Press" & Boeing

So, what gives? Does it really make sense for a brand to stake out a media touch point, and single-mindedly “own” it over an extended period of time? And should your brand get into ownership media? 

4 Truths about Ownership Media

For ownership media to work, four things should be true. 

1. The media touch point engages your target. 

The starting point for any media ownership discussion is whether or not your target consumer engages with the touch point. Brands need to focus on media touchpoints with high target group usage. HSBC is going after an upscale, affluent group who flies frequently. Where to find these people? Jet ways. Yes, jet ways are an excellent place for HSBC to be. In fact, I saw their jet way ad just before boarding a plane and writing this post. 

2. The content amplifies your advertising message. 

Marshall McLuhan once famously said, “the medium is the message.” Well, it’s not quite the full message, but we know thru research that content greatly influences the effectiveness of the ad that it sits within. Thus, it’s important to identify media that can positively impact your ads performance, before selecting a given media platform. 

If you’re thinking of TV, make sure to consider how your ad performs by genre, or which shows are most engaging, before choosing an ownership program. Outside of TV, consider using Market Contact Audit or a similar service to identify a compelling touch point for your ownership media. 

3. The equity of the media matches the equity of your brand. 

I’m a big believer in advertising/programming synergy. SlimFast ads are likely to work better in The Biggest Loser than elsewhere. Nike golf ads are likely more effective in PGA events. Cosmetic ads almost certainly break-thru better in Project Runway. 

Ownership media works best when the equity of the media fits tightly with the equity of your brand. Making a commitment to ownership media is no small decision. Make sure that the media you commit to actually helps build your key brand equities. 

4. The media platform is enduring. 

How long has Bose been in Parade? I don’t know for sure, but I know it’s a long time. Nielsen IAG research shows that product placement and brand integrations work better the longer you do them in a show; it’s highly likely that ownership media works in much the same way. 

If you’ve gone to the trouble of identifying a media property that amplifies your message and reinforces the equity of your brand, then really own it—not just once or twice, but for the long-term.

Ownership Media – Is it For Your Brand?

Owning your own slice of the media pie is a smart approach for many brands. Bose, HSBC and Boeing, all very different brands, have all made a similar decision to grab a piece of the media eco-system and own it. 

If you’re thinking of doing the same, just make sure to consider targeting, programming, equity synergy and longevity as key criteria in making this important choice. And then, add ownership media to your portfolio of approaches to building your brand. 

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Why Social + Mobile = Shopping

July 27, 2010

What happens when you take two hot growth areas—Social Networks and Mobile–and combine them with good old fashioned shopping? You get a phenomenon people are just now beginning to understand: the convergence of Social, Mobile & Shopping—let’s call it SMS for short. 

SMS - Social, Mobile & Shopping

 

What’s the SMS convergence? It’s the increasing ability of shoppers to use social networks to inform their shopping experience, access information about products, and broadcast their product experiences – all in real time via their mobile phone. 

Let’s look at the trends in Social Media and Mobile that are powering this convergence. 

Social Media Trends

  • Social networking penetration is increasing.  Facebook now has over 500 million users, growing its user base by +69% from 2009 to 2010.
  • Consumers are spending more time with social networking.  In the past 3 years, the average time spent has risen from 2 to 6 hours per week.
  • Social networks are mass.  There are now more people aged 50+ using social networks than people <50. They’re not just for students anymore—anyone can be reached thru social networks.

Facebook: Social Networking Growth

 

Mobile Trends

  • Penetration is growing. Within 10 years, there will be as many mobile phones in use as there are people on the planet.
  • Smartphones are taking over.  Smartphones are growing disproportionately fast. It’s projected that by the end of 2011, more people in the U.S. will use Smartphones than standard cell phones.
  • Usage is becoming more sophisticated.  With more Smartphones, come more apps. The average Smartphone user has 22 apps versus only 10 for regular cell phones.

Smartphone Penetration (image from Nielsen Wire)

 

How Social Networks & Mobile Intersect

The stats above probably confirmed what you already knew: Social Networking and Mobile are high growth areas. What you may not have realized is this: Social networking and Mobile are increasingly intertwined. Specifically, social networking apps are: 

  • #1 on the iPhone
  • #1 on the Blackberry
  • #2 on Android phones

It’s easy to see where this is all going. Social networking on Mobile is going to get bigger, more sophisticated and more enabled over the next few years. And this has some interesting implications for shopping. 

Social Networks & Mobile

 

Enter Shopping – A Social and Information Driven Activity

Social networks and Mobile are ideally suited for shopping. Why? 

First, shopping is a social experience.  People love to shop, but they really love to shop with other people. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. Enter Social Networking on Mobile. 

Second, shopping is about finding the right product at the right price.  This requires information. Consumers can access the opinions of their friends and acquaintances as they shop. And they can get real time access to valuable information—pricing, quality, etc.– about products and services. 

Third, people love to share their experiences with products and services.  Going forward, consumers will be able to broadcast their own shopping experiences via mobile, to both friends and others, and in close to real time. Had a bad experience with the service desk? Consumers will tell everyone they know—before they leave the store. 

Social Media & Shopping: Users Share Experiences

 

5 Actions for Marketers

The SMS convergence has numerous implications for Marketing organizations. Here are 5 to think about: 

  1. Brands must be open and transparent to win in this environment.  As I wrote in a previous post,  consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about your product and your company. The merging of Social and Mobile only accelerates this trend. Brands cannot afford to hide.
  2. Brands have an opportunity to improve their consumers shopping experience. Brands can now create apps and content that make their target consumers’ shopping experience better. Better could mean simpler, easier, more social, or any other improvement that’s relevant to their shopper.
  3. Brands must invest in creating Social CRM capabilities. Jeremiah Owyang has written extensively about the need for Marketing organizations to create social CRM capabilities. That is, to create a function to listen and engage with consumers in authentic dialogue about your brand.
  4. Brands can drive Social Shopping.  Making the buying process part of a social event is increasingly feasible. Disney recently created a Facebook app which enabled friends to buy movie tickets for the same movie. This is a great example of social shopping.
  5. Brands should experiment with shopping based App advertising.  The advent of Apple’s iAd system opens up a whole new advertising platform. This will create all kinds of new opportunities to advertise to consumers in context relevant ways. Imagine your target consumer walking into a store, snapping a photo of the UPC of your competitors’ product via a shopping app to learn more. Is this a place you might want to advertise?

SMS – Now or Later ?

SMS, like most changes, isn’t happening overnight. So, there’s always a tendency to say “it’s not big, let’s wait to see where it goes…” But the trends are clear and CMO’s need to pay special attention. 

It would be wrong to suddenly shift huge amounts of your Marketing budget into a largely unproven set of opportunities. Yet, the most prudent CMO’s will invest in a measured approach to learning what works and what doesn’t, and ultimately learn how to win in this nascent but increasingly important space. 

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Guest Post: The Future of Media Research

May 17, 2010

This post is part of a continuing series of guest posts. Louise Ainsworth, Managing Director, EMEA, The Nielsen Company, looks at four scenarios for the future of media research.

The media industry has been subject to massive disruptive influences in the last ten years and they seem set to continue. Any attempt to predict the future of the media and advertising ecosystem or the future of the research industry that supports it is likely to fail.

Media Disruption — How To Measure in the New World

However, we can think about the underlying forces and influences at play and what are the likely outcomes of each, leading to scenarios which help us frame decision-making. Some possible future scenarios include:

1. New Media, New Metrics

Technology and platforms are evolving and will continue to evolve to allow audiences to extend media consumption throughout their day and find the best available screen. New kinds of research are needed to understand audience behaviour, attitudes and response in this new world.

In some cases, these new approaches require new scientific understanding, such as neuroscience, or rely on the development of measurement technology in line with new platforms as usage extends to 2, 3 or even 4 screens. In other cases, these new metrics reflect different and innovative applications of well established academic thinking or traditional research, such as behavioural economics, currently a hot topic in the UK.

Social media has also fundamentally changed the way that audiences communicate with each other and the way that brands can reach out to them.

Recent analysis by The Nielsen Company shows how viral media can inflate not only the reach of a campaign, but also the impact. Audiences trust recommendations from a friend more than any media communication. A recent study conducted jointly by Nielsen and Facebook showed how ‘friends’ becoming fans of a brand provides both organic reach and also significant shifts in brand awareness and consideration.

Difference between control group and exposed

A recent review provided another illustration of how new metrics are needed to grasp the meaning of how new media impacts campaigns around the Super Bowl. In this review, Nielsen developed a blended media score to evaluate the performance of campaigns across paid and earned media, including audience response and viral impact. The chart below shows how some advertisers were better than others at ‘earning media’.

Earned Media

2. Less is More

An alternate view is that the proliferation of platforms and metrics only serve to confuse and make it harder for marketers and agencies to make allocation decisions. Whilst in some cases allocation and targeting can increasingly be automated, major advertisers are looking for simple approaches and metrics that can be applied consistently when they are comparing across platforms.

The demand for, and success of, UKOM illustrate this – the reality is that to understand and evaluate the internet in comparison with other media, advertisers required that an internet planning currency was established. This has now been adopted by more than 30 publishers and more than 30 of the UK’s leading agencies. UKOM is providing the UK online media industry with an opportunity to finally engage with the IPA TouchPoints survey and provide a valuable source of consistent evaluation.

In several examples, clients also seek to find consistent metrics across multiple markets and all media. They do desire a GRP that compares across 4 screens and across all markets. The following article, Integrated Measurement and the Pathway to Profitability, looks at one way of evaluating a cross-media GRP.

3. Response Data Complements Audience Ratings Data

One opportunity to unify advertising research across platforms is to focus on the impact on audience response, advertising recall, changes in behaviour and ultimately revenues.

Advertising is increasingly targeted and evaluated on the basis of which media contexts and creatives have been most successful in driving response metrics including propensity to buy. Services such as Nielsen IAG offer clients the opportunity to compare performance of TV advertising with online advertising.

TV vs online advertising

The more granular the data, the more meaningful the evaluation, and this kind of evaluation, particularly on offline purchase, will rely on highly granular data in media and purchase behaviour. This type of analysis will help us better understand how & where the ‘new media ecology’ will eventually settle out to and how we should frame future resource allocation.

4. Privacy Prevails

The last scenario, and the one which offers the least opportunity, is the ongoing threat of increasingly stringent privacy legislation. This presents a more sobering prospect for the industry of increased restrictions on the flexibility of publishers, networks and also researchers to monitor and respond to the behaviour of the audience with increasingly targeted and relevant offerings.

Advertisers and publishers, as well as researchers, may lose out on the opportunity to generate more value for the industry by improving the efficiency of advertising. Providing consumers with a clear and valuable exchange (for instance, more relevant, salient advertising communication) for their disclosure will be a critical requirement for the industry.

The call to action for the media research industry here is to ensure that we take this issue seriously and self police effectively. Privacy remains paramount and the research industry must lead the field in ensuring we maintain high levels of security and anonymity in personal data handling.

Of course, it’s likely that elements of all of these trends will be evident in future market spaces. All provide a different set of challenges and opportunities for media, advertisers and researchers alike. One thing is certain, those that succeed in this future will be those that frame their decision-making through an awareness and understanding of these contrasting forces and influences at play.

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