Brands in the UK and US are too focused on narrow, goal-orientated TV creative rather than making ads that are based on empathy, relationships and human connection, according to a study by market-research firm System1.

Orlando Wood, System1’s chief innovation officer, discussed his in-depth research into TV ad performance at the Media, Marketing & Effectiveness Conference held by thinktv, a marketing-and-research association dedicated to commercial television in Canada.

From a sample of 100 spots, he found these ads exhibited a higher quantity of “left-brain” features (which are literal, factual and explicit) than “right-brain” traits (offering greater depth, questioning, context and self-awareness).

“If all this were a matter of taste,” Wood said, “it wouldn't really matter. But actually it has a real bearing on effectiveness.” (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Why literal, factual, repetitive TV ads are leading to a decline in effectiveness.)

“Right-brain” ads, he reported, are associated with long-term growth and brand building – meaning they are connected with sustainable growth. Most “left-brain” ads, however, are not likely to yield long-term growth.

“This helps to explain the crisis in creativity. This mental shift helps to explain the rise of short-termism and the decline in advertising effectiveness,” Wood said.

But, Wood discovered, spots in the UK exhibited a greater “left-brain” bias, with the average TV commercial analysed featuring 3.9 traits consistent with this description, versus 2.3 “right-brain” components.

The television spots from the US, by contrast, logged 3.4 “left-brain” features apiece, and 2.6 “right-brain” components, according to Wood’s figures.

“Those highly-effective, right-brain features are the features that are becoming less common. And the least effective left-brain features are the ones that are becoming more common,” he reported.

Part of the backdrop to his analysis was a recent study by Peter Field, a consultant and leading researcher on the subject of marketing effectiveness.

According to Field’s work, the impact of award-winning creative is now at its lowest level in the 24 years he assessed, largely as a result of short-term thinking that has led to eye-catching, but ultimately “disposable”, messaging.

Sourced from WARC