Brands seeking to deliver a coronavirus-focused video message need to concentrate as much on the environment surrounding this material as the creative execution, according to a new study.

In fact, early findings from this research indicate that the content environment can have an “important and critical” effect on the impact of COVID-19-themed ads.

“In a study we did earlier this week,” explained Duane Varan, CEO of MediaScience, the US-based marketing-research firm, “we tested COVID-themed ads versus-‘standard’-themed ads in different program environments.”

Addressing an Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) webinar, he explained that the “standard” ads were those pieces of creative that had been appearing in support of brands. The “COVID-19”-themed pieces were specific to the current occasion.

MediaScience aired the spots in two different programming environments – comedy and news. To ensure viewing comfort, research participants could choose from one of four comedy shows and were given the option of updated feeds from their pick of Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN.

The rotation of ads was “always held constant in different program environments,” Varan continued. And because consumers were sheltering in place in the various cities where MediaScience has labs, the consistency of the programming was maintained through a new “Steam Pulse” service the research firm maintains on its own private over-the-top channel.

Across the whole sample, the study sought to determine how well the “standard” ads performed against the “COVID-19”-focused messaging in both comedy and news environments.

And, across the board, MediaScience found a “general superiority” of the news environment for the COVID-19-focused messages.

“For some brands, the damage of the comedy environment was really quite stark,” Varan added, cautioning the ARF digital audience that the success of sensitive messaging “is not just about the creative itself, but also about the context and nature in which the message appears.”

Varan was a co-author – alongside Magda Nenycz-Thiel, Rachel Kennedy and Steven Bellman, all from The Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, a unit of the School of Marketing at the University of South Australia – of a Journal of Advertising Research (JAR) paper on the comparative performance of seven- 15-, 30- and 60-second TV spots.

That paper, entitled “The effects of commercial length on advertising impact: What short advertisements can and cannot deliver”, appears in the most recent edition of the Journal of Advertising Research.

Sourced from WARC