With the acceleration of digital media over the past decade, advertisers have shifted their attention to online channels. But how can you capture consumers’ attention of when they spend an average of seven hours online every day? The advertising industry is battling in an attention economy. Users are absorbing massive amounts of information, their brains working overtime to process it. Ensuring an attention-grabbing video ad with the desired impact on the viewer is a challenge.
Recently we conducted a neuromarketing assessment on a (now award winning) campaign for Anouk Last from LifeHunters. With video pre-testing, she wanted to optimize attention and emotional impact of the video in this campaign. It turned out to be an interesting conversation when asking her why pre-testing isn’t standard procedure in online advertising.
With the consumer at the center of the (evolving) data age one would expect that content creators would use any new technology to figure out how to best capture and hold attention. However it appeared that many content creators, particularly in the advertising world, are not embracing that. Reason? It would disrupt creativity and originality. Data would prevent creative people from doing their work properly.
Subconscious consumer behavior
Anouk advises content creators to be more open to technological innovations: “The battle for attention has never been fiercer, and effective content optimization is crucial if you want to guarantee that videos reflect the right brand message. It is important that viewing time is as long as possible so that the message is better understood. An excellent way to achieve this is by applying neuromarketing research, preferably during the creative process.”
“Online advertisers cling to traditional viewing research” – Anouk Last, Lifehunters
Already almost two decades ago, scientific research² showed that 95% of all human cognition takes place in the subconscious brain. Brand attitudes, purchase decisions or other consumer behavior: it has little to do with rational considerations. In the meantime, neuromarketing is evolving. Yet online advertisers stick to traditional audience research. When you want to increase the emotional impact of content, why the limitation of rational measurements?
Anouk: “Data shyness ensures that the online advertising industry does not reach its full potential. By not moving with the data age, content creators are likely to indirectly jeopardize their own profession.”
Early on in her career, Anouk noticed that if any research into video content was done at all, it was based entirely on surveys and self-assessment studies. Such methods do not give a reliable picture of what viewers genuinely feel, because of the high chance of ‘bias’, such as socially desirable behavior. They only measure conscious, rationalized and filtered perceptions. This made Anouk turn to neuromarketing research, a qualitative research method combining behavior- and emotion detection equipment with neuroscience and psychology. By combining EEG and eye-tracking data, for example, you can see which scenes and/or video elements trigger emotions and how it affects attention (‘cognitive load’). It gives an objective insight into the viewer’s subconscious emotional experience that is ideal for video optimization.
‘Emotion data vs. video concept
“Neuro-video testing allows you to see which elements make the most impact or which scenes are more effective than others and why,” Anouk explains. “With these insights, you can optimize in a targeted way. And it’s perfectly possible with the existing material that was already shot: sequence of scenes, blurring, highlighting, adjusting visual cues, lie colors or brand logos; it doesn’t detract from the creative concept. On the contrary: it enables you as a content creator to make the concept even better. Emotion data does not direct the concept of a video, it’s the perfect tool for fine-tuning. You get better insight into what resonates with the target audience and at the same time you staying true to the creative concept.”
One campaing where Lifehunters used this technique is the (Dutch) “Time for each other” campaign for Libelle. It was launched to make women more aware of what the Libelle brand has to offer, and to encourage couples to spend more time together. To gain insight into emotions the video triggered, it was analyzed both on scene level and as a whole. It appeared that the video would make significantly more impact if the opening scene had a lower deterrent effect.
Participants (women, aged 30-50), also indicated that they didn’t understand certain scenes and that they lacked personal involvement as a result. Also, the level of intimacy wasn’t well represented in several scenes, causing frustration from time to time. “These are just a few examples of what emerged to use as input for optimization of the campaign.”
The effort paid off: the campaign won the (internationally acclaimed) Golden Stevie Award in the category ‘Marketing Campaign of the Year’.
Anouk is convinced that online advertisers need to master data-driven insights if they want to take their video content to the next level. They don’t need to be afraid that their concept will be ruined by data. “Neuromarketing offers suggestions for video optimization, while keeping the creative concept intact. You could actually call it data-driven creativity.”
Sources: ¹ Kemp, S. (2020, January). Digital 2020: 3.8 billion people use social media, source/link. ² Zaltman, G. (2003). How customers think: Essential insights into the mind of the market, Harvard Business Press.