GLOBAL: Branding early and often with a focus on screen placement is crucial for advertising to be effective, according to two leading academics, who also call into question the usefulness of self-reporting when it comes to consumer attention.

In their article How advertising attracts attention, published in the current issue of Admap, Karen Nelson-Field, Professor of Media Innovation at the University of Adelaide, and Erica Riebe, principal researcher at the Centre for Amplified Intelligence, outline their key discoveries in the investigation of how appropriately captured attention and, in turn, sales, are affected by the creative characteristics of advertisements.

By “appropriately” they mean measured by machine, since they have observed a “vast difference” between attention measured using a machine and that reported by a human.

“Across our studies, 50% of respondents over-reported their attention by an average of 42%, while the remainder under-reported by an average of 36%,” they report.

“In addition, self-reported attention is not even closely aligned with change in later buying behaviour, while attention captured using a machine is.”

The authors developed a customised machine learning model to estimate eye gaze on screen and calculate an attention score; an additional tool enabled them to assess the quality of the branding within an execution, while research participants themselves stated their emotional response.

“The type of emotion elicited by advertising is important,” they report, with highly arousing executions – those that elicit a physiological reaction – more likely to be noticed and to then have an impact on sales.

But even among these ads, the biggest impact on sales came from those with better branding quality. And this factor was found to account for 25% of the variation in choice for big brands compared to 35% for small brands – making branding quality especially important for small brands.

Nelson-Field and Riebe also note that “Rather than detracting from audience attention, branding is instead the element of advertising that draws the eye”. In fact, “attention hits a peak at prominent branding points”.

And since their attention research involved a frame-by-frame study, they are also able to state that “early branding is vital”.

Viewers’ eyes-on-screen attention to advertising rarely extends past 10 seconds, they report. “Ads need to brand early (and often) to maximise the reach opportunity.”

Sourced from Admap