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After attention comes memory: the best campaigns last until the point of purchase

Technology & Data

After attention comes memory: the best campaigns last until the point of purchase


If grabbing consumers’ attention is the first step in the quest for brand growth, memory encoding is the second. Of all the channels, research shows television comes out on top.

This article was sponsored by ThinkTV to let readers know about The Benchmark Series – an investigation into how Australians really engage with advertising across platforms and devices »

It’s been long established that brand retention in a consumer’s memory – or ‘mental availability’ – is crucial at the point of purchase to impacting long-term growth.

Professor Karen Nelson-Field notes, “The closer the ad is to the purchase occasion, the better off you are. But you never know when someone is in the purchase occasion.”

And therein lies the catch. But there is a way to ensure you keep your brand in the memory of the consumer longer – and that is by using the right media. Good media enables brands to be remembered longer. Less effective media decays quickly, with memory of the ad quickly fading.

Decay is a concern for all brands, and The Benchmark Series – a research program conducted by professor Nelson-Field – found that while an ad’s first impression has the greatest effect on any platform, that is where the similarities end. Ads viewed on both Facebook and YouTube decay at a faster rate than ads seen on television. In fact, Facebook ads decay two and a half times faster, while YouTube decays three times faster.

TV has a number of factors going for it that make it more memorable. The medium itself affords brands the ability to tell a story; one structured with a beginning, middle and end. Additionally, television ads allow the option to build tension and resolve, to communicate triumph or loss.

TV advertising creates a vast array of memory triggers that help ensure advertising stays in people’s memory for longer. In fact, the Benchmark Series found that ads which generate a strong reaction – irrespective of whether the reaction is positive or negative – garner 16% more attention than ads which elicit weak reactions. In addition, ads that generate a high emotional response have 2.4 times the sales impact.

Emotion is important for memory encoding, but the most important thing is for your ad to be seen on the right platform. Benchmark research found that a low-emotion ad will still gain more attention when distributed on a more visible platform, and more than a highly-emotional ad that is barely seen.

According to the report, TV is by far the most memorable medium. The Benchmark research also found that 28 days after watching an ad on TV, an individual’s ad retention would have declined to the same rate as an consumer’s first viewing of an ad on YouTube or Facebook. That means, according to the report, that TV ads stay in consumers’ memories for nine times longer, on average, than a Facebook or YouTube ad.

An approach that has been applied in the past to overcome dropping memory retention is to increase frequency. But it doesn’t work. Professor Nelson-Field explains, “The advertising response function is convex, which means the first impression has the greatest effect and any subsequent impressions after that render less impact – so there are diminishing returns. Hitting the same people with more impressions is actually a waste of money.”

Furthermore, increased frequency will in turn increase clutter on the platform, which further reduces the impact of your advertising.

For mobile devices, decay is of even greater concern. Professor Nelson-Field notes, “Competitors optimising for mobile are doing themselves a disservice because the actual device decays more quickly.”

While it takes 109 days to reach the point where a consumer is no longer impacted by an ad they saw on TV, for Facebook on mobile it will only take six days. For YouTube on mobile, the ad will have lost any influence after eight days.

The takeaway here is that no amount of frequency can boost ineffective media channels. For the best-retained memory, which will lead to a sustained sales impact, TV is the way to go.

As you vie for the coveted position of top-of-mind until the point of purchase, remember that only the best campaigns with the best media get that honour. Notice. The. Difference.

Visit ThinkTV to find out how the science behind attention help get the most out of your media spend and drive business growth »






Image credit: Robina Weermeijer


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