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Stop Them in Their Tracks! The Importance of Gaining Viewer Interest Quickly

June 21st, 2018 Comments off

Stopping Power in advertising can be defined as an advertisement’s ability to capture audience attention and interest.  For a print advertisement this would represent an ad causing a reader to stop reading an article or flipping the pages and take notice of the ad.  For a video commercial this would represent an ad’s ability to capture a viewer’s mental attention (versus such things as competing screens, idle conversation, a quick zap from the remote or perhaps a journey to the fridge for a snack).  Logically, stopping power would be expected to raise the likelihood of viewers actually receiving the advertisement’s intended message.

 

The Benefit of Stopping Power

Among the various ways to measure stopping power, MSW-ARS has used the Scene-to-Scene Trace technique to gauge respondent interest in a commercial. The Scene-to-Scene Trace illustrates how quickly the ad is able to build – or lose – interest, making it a meaningful measure of an ad’s stopping power.

 

 

One useful metric we have derived from studying interest profiles is the slope of the interest profile in the first 5-seconds of a video advertisement. A stopping power hurdle based on the opening slope of the interest profile has been established. The 41% of cases in the MSW-ARS database which were able to attain this hurdle have CCPersuasion® scores which are substantially stronger than those which do not exceed this hurdle.

 

 

While stopping power is clearly beneficial, it should be noted that it is equally important to sustain interest throughout an ad. In fact, those ads that are able to grab attention and hold onto it (by meeting an average interest level hurdle) have even stronger CCPersuasion results, on average.

 

 

Achieving Stopping Power – Visual Complexity

A study published in the paper “The Stopping Power of Advertising: Measures and Effects of Visual Complexity” (Pieters, Wedel & Batra, Journal of Marketing, September 2010) assessed the effect of visual complexity on stopping power for print advertising.  This study found that two types of visual complexity – Feature Complexity and Design Complexity – had opposite effects on the stopping power of print ads.

According to the paper, ads with feature complexity “contain more detail and variation in their basic visual features, color, luminance, and edges” and are “visually cluttered”.  Ads with this type of complexity were found to have poor stopping power.  As an example, this ad from LG is extreme in the detail and variation of its visual features and colors.

 

 

Ads with design complexity are characterized by “the structured variation in terms of specific shapes, objects, and their arrangements in the advertisement” and “intricacy of the creative design”.  The paper established six dimensions to quantify the degree of design complexity of a print ad:

  • Quantity of objects (many = complex)
  • Irregularity of objects (irregular = complex)
  • Dissimilarity of different objects (dissimilar = complex)
  • Detail of individual objects – not the ad as a whole (detailed = complex)
  • Asymmetry of object arrangements (asymmetric = complex)
  • Irregularity of object arrangement (irregular = complex)

Ads with this type of complexity were found to have strong stopping power.  This ad from Bumble Bee has a relatively large number of distinct objects which are irregular and dissimilar (particularly the different ingredient pictures) with extensive detail in the dominant image.  The offset of the can provides an additional feeling of asymmetry and irregularity of object arrangement.

 

 

Observations from Video Ads with Strong Stopping Power

In a non-scientific attempt to understand what type of content in the first 5 seconds of video ads might be driving initial stopping power, the thirty video ads with the highest interest profile opening slope in the MSW-ARS database were reviewed. The following elements were observed across multiple of these ads with strong stopping power:

  • Music: particularly music which is lively or suggesting suspense or tension
  • Creative Demonstration: a visually engaging demonstration of the product in action
  • Suspense: Images or action that provoke curiosity and keep viewers engrossed
  • Surprise: An unexpected or novel visual element
  • Provocative Statement: Some promise that may sound too good to be true – e.g., “How would you like to look ten years younger”
  • Facial Close-Up: This was particularly true for beauty care ads. Note that research has shown that faces have a strong tendency to draw viewer attention and so are likely to detract from the ad’s effectiveness if the facial image is not related to the product itself.
  • Scenic Beauty: Needs to relate to the ad’s message
  • Children: Caution is also advised in using children, as most of the cases with children had weak CCPersuasion scores possible due to the presence of children not being consistent with the ad’s message or taking attention away from focus on the product.

Note that many of these elements are consistent with the idea of design complexity in that they are related to creativity and the presentation of ideas in a visually unique and engaging manner. A number of the most successful cases have no spoken words in the first 5 seconds but instead use music or visuals to gain viewer interest and attention.  Also it is important that the brand’s identity and the ad’s message not get lost in pursuit of misguided creativity (that which entertains but does not sell).

 

Some Examples

The following ad for Kohler had very strong stopping power, with an opening slope of over 3 times the hurdle level. Not only does it have lively music and a brisk pace, it also is completely product focused and demonstrates the product’s functionality in a creative way.  It also seems to adhere to the principles of using visual complexity by keeping it simple (avoiding the visual clutter of feature complexity), but also attaining design complexity through varying not only the number, arrangement and size of the shower heads but also the speed and type of demonstrations.

 

 

TurboTax’s Humpty Dumpty ad brings both suspense (the urgency of the armor clad men rushing through a modern urban landscape) and surprise (the unexpected visual of the shattered figure of Humpty Dumpty) in its first five seconds.

 

 

This Super Bowl ad from Intel gains attention by making the provocative claim that “Intel 360 Replay makes everything look epic.”

 

 

The opening of the following viral ad for Miss Dior perfume features a facial close-up (of Natalie Portman) which may work in this case since the product is all about allure and image.  Its music also evokes a feeling of tension and suspense which likely aids in generating strong stopping power.

 

 

Kia’s popular Super Bowl ad featuring Melissa McCarthy opens with a shot of a Kia driving through a forest of soaring pines.  Ultimately this opening visual of scenic beauty is tied to the message of Kia’s crossover vehicle being the most fuel efficient in its class.

 

 

For more information on how our communications research tools can help improve your advertising’s effectiveness, please contact us at aklein@msw-ars.com.

 

 

 

Independent Audit Confirms MSW-ARS TouchPoint® Copy Test System’s Powerful Linkage to Financial Performance

February 20th, 2018 Comments off

Last week the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) announced that TouchPoint®, MSW-ARS’s advertising copy test solution, has completed the Marketing Metric Audit Protocol (MMAP) – MASB’s formal process for validating the relationship between a marketing measurement and financial performance.

TouchPoint uses a behavioral, multi-media experience to collect the criterion CCPersuasion® metric. This unique approach avoids common pitfalls, such as cooperation bias, of more direct approaches and thus allows for a more meaningful measurement of consumer preferences.  In fact, CCPersuasion utilizes the patented CCPreference® system (also successfully audited by MASB) as its foundation.  The TouchPoint system is flexible enough to measure individual ads as well as full multi-execution campaigns across a wide variety of media types, and integrates extensive diagnostic feedback demonstrated in the audit to have a strong track record in helping to improve the effectiveness of tested copy.

In the MMAP audit, the CCPersuasion metric was assessed against the MMAP ten characteristics of an ideal metric, as well as MASB’s guidelines for measures of marketing productivity.

Most vitally, the audit requires metrics to substantiate a specific link to financial performance. Regarding the TouchPoint system, the MMAP audit concluded that the CCPersuasion metric is able to quantify the likelihood and magnitude of an ad’s impact on future sales volume and market share.  This is based on a wealth of information collected over many years proving the predictive validity of the CCPersuasion metric.

Specifically, the audit indicates that the CCPersuasion measure predicts TV advertising’s impact on market results at ~0.90 correlation level when the effect of the ad is isolated from the other elements of the marketing mix. One published study that substantiates this conclusion relates the predicted sales volume impacted by advertising to the actual sales volume impacted from independent Marketing Mix Modeling analysis:

 

What does this mean for advertisers? Well, there are a number of different aspects of the TouchPoint system that have been demonstrated to help improve advertising’s Return on Investment.

On the most basic level, an advertising copy test system is used to qualify specific executions for airing or is applied upstream to determine which initiatives should precede for further development. Since TouchPoint uses a criterion measure strongly related to sales impact, advertisers can have confidence that these decisions will be made on the basis of improving advertising’s return.  TouchPoint takes this a step further by providing the Fair Share® benchmark, a unique modeled norm that is superior to traditional normative approaches.  Fair Share represents an estimate of the sales effectiveness, in terms of CCPersuasion level, for a typical ad for the advertised brand, given the category environment and the brand’s position in that environment.

In addition to giving a meaninfgul go/no-go indication on copy, the magnitude validation of the CCPersuasion metric allows for a forecast of an ad’s expected impact when aired. This is implemented through use of an easy to use elasticity grid which sets expectations based on the CCPersuasion level.

 

 

In addition, MSW-ARS has decades of experience researching and publishing on the topic of advertising wearout. By marrying the findings of validation studies with these wearout learnings, we developed the patented Outlook® media planner.   The Outlook planner, which has been cited in numerous award winning case studies, enables brands to forecast sales impact, plan the number of executions needed to meet business objectives, and allocate media spend among multiple tested executions so as to optimize return on advertising investment.

 

 

The TouchPoint system is also capable of assessing early stage stimuli using the same validated methodology to raise the odds of success before costly development on specific executions has begun. This is demonstrated through a study linking the test results of early stage video value propositions with the CCPersuasion levels of finished executions developed from these propositions.  The results show that ads based on strong value propositions are much more likely to perform above benchmark at the finished execution stage.

 

 

As noted earlier, the TouchPoint system incorporates extensive diagnostics that have been shown to significantly relate to the criterion CCPersuasion measure and which have been shown to provide guidance for improving the effectiveness of tested copy. This diagnostic learning is also key in helping brands understand what is working and how it can best be deployed.  The potential for improvement fueled by validated diagnostic feedback over the course of time is illustrated by a four year case study in which a global MSW-ARS client was able to improve both qualification rate and average CCPersuasion level year-over-year for each year of the study.

 

 

Finally, it should be noted that CCPreference, the foundation of TouchPoint’s CCPersuasion metric, is a common metric running throughout the range of MSW-ARS solutions from early stage creative development through copy testing and creative and brand health tracking. This provides marketers with a unique ability to better connect research from one stage of the advertising process to the next, avoiding potential outages that can occur when attempting to move between different stages in the research process which are assessed using different systems and metrics.

 

 

To learn more about the TouchPoint copy test system, it’s performance on the MMAP audit and how it can help improve your brand’s financial return from advertising, please contact us at aklein@mswarsresearch.com.

 

Television’s Brand Building Power – How It Has Changed Over the Years

June 20th, 2017 Comments off

Radical changes continue to shape the media landscape. While much recent research has been conducted on the effectiveness of new platforms, less attention has been given to that media plan staple, television advertising. Is television as effective as it was in the 1980s? Or has its role diminished to the point of non-viability? And if still effective, how does it compare to other media platform options available today?

Last week, research that directly answers these questions was presented at the annual ARF Audience Measurement Conference in New Jersey. This research includes an update of MSW●ARS’s landmark advertising wearout study, An Empirical Investigation of Advertising Wearin and Wearout (which was chosen by the Journal of Advertising Research as one of “18 Articles That Have Withstood the Test of Time”).  The analysis was a joint effort by MSW●ARS Research, the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MSAB) and Nielsen Research.  ESPN’s Kelly Johnson joined MASB Executive Director Frank Findley on the podium to deliver not only the latest findings on advertising wearout but also other important new learning and case studies.

The major conclusions from the study include the following:

  • On a single, quality exposure basis the television ad format is as effective now as it was in the 1980s (based on copy-testing for 30-second television ads collected within the United States for typical categories with brands advertising throughout the years 1980 to 2014 using a consistent methodology, MSW●ARS Research’s CCPersuasionTM measure).

wearout chart 1

 

  • The rate of delivery of ad selling power per GRP has slowed, requiring approximately 25% more GRPs to deliver the same power to market as it did in the 1980s.

wearout chart 2

 

  • More than mitigating this decline, the number of U.S. households has increased by 45%.

wearout chart 3

 

  • Despite a potential increase in distracted viewing, television advertising still maintains an effective frequency profile that is comparable to other media channels including digital.

wearout chart 4

 

The study also explores how advertising wearout learning can be combined with advertising effectiveness testing to create a metric highly predictive of in-market outcomes and which allows for media planning guidance and optimization of media spend.

For a copy of the full MSW●ARS Research white paper, Television’s Brand Building Power – How It Has Changed Over the Years, please contact us at aklein@mswarsresearch.com.