Optimizing Ads: Is Less Always More?
By Millward Brown
It’s the relentless imperative of our age: Do everything better, but also faster and at lower cost. Marketers confront this challenge as their own discipline becomes ever more difficult. Not only are their financial resources limited, but the consumer attention they seek is scattered and fragmented across a myriad of media. Therefore, advertising practitioners are understandably eager to explore any option that might help them reach consumers with maximum effectiveness and minimal expense.
Since faster, cheaper, and better is the goal, it’s not surprising that last summer’s release from Nielsen describing their neuro-compression technology generated a flurry of articles in the North American research press. According to the release, “This proprietary technology enables the most effective scenes within a TV spot to be identified and edited into a shorter and often more neurologically impactful version.”
It certainly sounded good—the promise of ads that would be shorter (and therefore cheaper) and “more impactful” (according to brain activity recorded on an EEG). The problem is, making ads shorter and “more impactful” does not necessarily make them more effective. The goal of advertising is to build brands. Advertising is effective when it creates or reinforces positive brand associations in consumers’ minds, and that can happen only when the attention generated by an ad is linked to a brand. So it’s not enough to just light up the brain; an effective ad must cast some light on the brand too.
Millward Brown has been helping clients optimize their creative for more than three decades. Our work is based on our empirical understanding of how advertising works, which we have developed through years of in-market observation, testing, and validation. Originally we relied on traditional research that asked direct questions to elicit conscious and introspective reactions from respondents, but in recent years, we have extended our approach to reflect new understanding of how the brain works. We now incorporate a variety of indirect measurement techniques, including some with roots in neuroscience, when they can add depth and nuance to our assessment. But whenever we have advised clients on optimizing any aspect of their communications, including ad length, our recommendations have always been based on a holistic understanding of how an ad is intended to work against its specific objectives. To continue reading, download Optimizing Ads: Is Less Always More?