‘1 Second Strategy’ for creative and media industry

In the old days some people would flip telly channels during commercial breaks. Today smartphone users just skip or block online ads entirely. It’s becoming increasingly harder to capture viewers’ attention online given the overwhelming volume of information and content. Says Moneka Khurana, country manager, Mobile Marketing Association India, “Ever since video became the preferred mode of marketing a product, there has been a deluge of ads. On the flip side, owing to excessive screen time, the viewer’s attention spans have been reducing.” The Cognition Neuroscience Research project aims to provide answers as to why marketers are often befuddled about the lack of response while consumers wrestle with too many diversions. The other question is how can advertisers leverage specific visual elements to capture the emotional brain’s attention and the need to contrast ad complexity to the ad’s contextual environment?

“While advertisers have always known that there is a linear relationship of time with attention and impact of an ad, to discover that according to science, that length of time is less than half a second, is surely going to present a challenge to the creative and media teams,” she says. “Basis the research, MMA has come up with the One Second Strategy for the mobile marketing industry. It will be very interesting to see how they tackle the findings of this study.”

Key takeaways from Cognition Neuroscience Research project


0.5 SECONDS

The human brain needed less than half a second to engage with mobile advertising and trigger a reaction – POSITIVE or NEGATIVE. The cognitive process was accelerated for known brands though. “Well known” brands convert attention to a stronger emotional and cognitive response.

MOTION DRIVES EMOTION

Video ads generated stronger emotional response compared to static ads. On a flip side though, while weak and low performing (in terms of brand recall) ads were processed faster, it usually created negative responses in less than a second. This is detrimental to engagement/re-engagement.

While most of the existing work focuses on attention – eye tracking or reaction, this research measured attention and cognitive processing using cognitive load – the way consumers process the ad information and motivation /emotional response – the consumer’s interest or lack of it. These were mapped against the percentage of ads the consumers were exposed to.

Factors in an ad that trigger emotions 

• A Blur: When an ad first appears on the screen (one tenth of a second), ads are seen mostly as a blur, but can trigger emotional responses due to colour and composition. One reason is the nature of emotions associated with colours. While the colour red was associated with love and passion, green symbolised life and health.

• A Handle: The handle is recognized very early and triggers emotional response. Ads that are primed by handles are processed differently.

• Visual Elements: Visual elements will determine stopping power. More contrast and density is better.

• Motion drives emotion: Static pictures evoking more perceived movement are able to draw attention more quickly, resulting in an earlier fixation.


THE ONE SECOND STRATEGY CHECKLIST FOR CREATIVE

• Color and contrast matter. Make conscious decisions

• “Pretest” attention, salience and complexity

• Where possible, use people and faces

• If relevant trigger primary needs

• Add motion, even if perceived

• Make the first frames of a video count

• Adjust for platform complexity

• Adjust for brand familiarity/likeability

THE ONE SECOND STRATEGY CHECKLIST FOR MEDIA

• Win attention instead of paying for it: Controlling exposure time and pushing for longer times (:03+) inflates CPMs and does not guarantee attention or value. Marketers should focus on developing the right creative instead.

• Quantify the value of “High-velocity” impressions: Inventory that doesn’t meet time thresholds may still be seen and cognitively processed by viewers, such impressions will have value for marketers if priced right.

• Develop buying tools: The ad industry needs to develop the buying tools to support marketers in this effort. Existing media buying systems only allow marketers to track viewable vs. non viewable impressions, yet, we know from this research not all “non-viewable” impressions are created equal.

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