Chances are if someone asked you, “What is the most recent ad you saw on the web?”, you would struggle to remember which it was. You would go through your browsing history and mentally try to visualise all the ads you saw on each page, and the brands associated with those ads.
If this sounds like you, you are certainly not alone! In 2015 Time Magazine covered a study by Microsoft that found that the average attention span dropped from 12 seconds (in 2000) to eight seconds. The headline claimed, “You now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish”.
If we think about the internet as an enormous library, it’s not surprising that we are unable to focus on one thing for a long period of time. The internet experience invites users to read as many topics and pages as possible but users don’t usually delve deep – in fact they often leave web pages within 10–20 seconds, meaning that brands have approximately 11 seconds to grab attention and create a memorable brand experience.
So how can advertisers ensure that their digital ads succeed in both harnessing attention and providing consumers with an experience that will be remembered? The answer may lie in a greater understanding of how the human brain links memory and emotion.
The limbic system’s role in processing memory and emotion
The brain is composed of different areas, each with specific properties and functions that all work together. For the purposes of this piece we’ll focus on the brain’s limbic system, which is a collection of structures that are involved in processing memory and emotion.
The amygdala, or what we could call the “subconscious centre”, is the structure that controls emotions, emotional behaviour, motivation, reward processing and decision making. The amygdala interacts with the hippocampus, the structure in charge of learning and memory, by attaching emotional content to memories. Those memories with strong emotional components are the ones that are most likely to stick with us, over those with little emotional content.
Why emotional experiences are most remembered
Coming back to our initial question, you might have remembered an ad that stirred feelings or emotions, but maybe it wasn’t the latest ad you watched. It’s also possible, you don’t even remember perfectly the content of the ad, but you did successfully remember the brand associated with it.
The most simplistic explanation for this: when processing emotions our brains produce a series of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin which are delivered across the brain network. This mechanism helps create a positive association between the brand and the good feelings. It becomes apparent then that for advertisers, the key to memorable advertising is through creating experiences that resonate with consumers on an emotional level.
How your advertising can build better emotional connections with customers
Here are a few tips to ensure your advertising makes a lasting impact within the minds of consumers:
- Video: Video is one of the most powerful mediums for establishing an emotional connection with consumers. The sight, sound and motion of video engages various senses and can tell a richer, more evocative story than solely words or images can. Even in environments where consumers have been known to have low attention spans, elements like video teasers can be an effective way to capture attention and invite the consumer to explore a brand further.
- Appeal to your customer’s challenges or frustrations: Show your audience that you understand their problems and are there to make their lives easier. Including features like testimonials, case studies, or info product galleries alongside your video ad can help communicate assurance that your products or services will help them solve their challenges.
- Create buzz & excitement: Build up positive feelings around an event or sale by including a countdown clock or discount/special offer within your video ad unit. The latter feature not only creates an incentive to convert, but also helps activate the brain’s reward circuit, where our brains note that an important or pleasurable event happened and is worth remembering and repeating.
Attention and brand recall are valuable currency in this modern digital age where consumers are exposed to hundreds of ads daily. Advertising that elicits an emotional response is not only more likely to be remembered, but also more likely to drive positive brand sentiment and consumer action.
Interactive video advertising delivered across multiple screens is one of the best ways to connect with customers on an emotional level. Check out VDX.tv’s research study with MediaScience to learn how ads delivered across a combination of screens impacts outcomes like brand awareness, brand opinion and purchase intent.
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