Media Research Blog

Media Research Blog

Brain research shows print ads have 0.3 seconds to prove their relevance to readers

30 June 2014 · By Erik Grimm

A Dutch study of the brain’s electrical responses to five different types of advertising offers insight into how quickly an ad succeeds or fails — 0.3 seconds — and why.

Physiological research conducted at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, has delivered new insights that can help print ads to deliver better results. Most striking in this study is insight into the processing speed of the human brain.

Within 0.3 seconds, a consumer can decide whether an advertisement is relevant or not. While observing an ad, the brain delivers a quick response depending on the appreciation of the image. It only takes one-third of a second to distinguish the good (relevant) creatives from the bad (irrelevant).

This is the outcome of research from Erasmus University using physiological techniques such as electroencephalography (EEG) to measure the brain’s electrical response to advertising. In this study, initiated by branched organisation Magazines.nl, a total of 150 ads representing five branches — automotive, cosmetics, fashion, food, and electronics — were observed.

Positive and simple: The most intensive brain reactions were measured when the observed ads contained a simple message and evoked positive emotions. Also, the brand involved was noted to have  influence on the effectiveness of the ad. A well-established brand evokes a quick response of the brain.

The style of communicating also plays a major role. Advertisements appealing to fear or containing bold humour had a negative effect. Such ads will get noticed but tend to evoke a negative response and be valued as odd or shocking. Furthermore, consumers need more time and effort to digest such messages.

That’s related to another lesson from the study: If a consumer doesn’t instantly understand the advertiser’s message, he won’t make further attempts to understand it a second time.

(Left side: negative metaphor – don’t! Right side: clear, positive message – do!)

Branch differences: In this study, ads for cosmetics showed the most intensive brain response. Ads in this category are valued as very appealing. In these creatives, strong visuals are used, mostly pretty faces.

Professor Ale Smidts noted: “The strength of the brain response within half a second is indicative for the general appreciation of an ad. This brain reaction is likely to be a good indicator of the effectiveness and will be useful to test different variations of an ad.”

About the study: The study was carried out by Erasmus Centre for Neuroeconomics at the Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University. A total of 30 respondents observed 90 ads each. While they observed the ads, the brain activity of these respondents was measured by means of EEG signals.

All the creatives displayed were judged in advance by 1,200 respondents who were questioned on such aspects as stopping power, ad attitude, and general appreciation. These scores were used in the brain study.

Learning from the brain study: Dos and Don’ts

The study didn’t only deliver insights about the reaction time of the brain; it also produced several valuable insights.

  1. Uncomplicated ads that evoke positive emotions have proved to be most effective.

  2. Consumers don’t bother to understand the ads. The more effort required, the less attractive the creatives are perceived.

  3. Advertisements using extreme humour and fear are ineffective. On criteria like appreciation and attitude these ads get a bad score. Ads with these elements get noticed, but tend to  evoke a negative assessment.

print article send to friend


blog comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

The mission of the Media Research Blog is to highlight research done by newsmedia companies as an activity that should guide strategic and tactical decisions. At INMA we believe research is more vital than ever in understanding the complex calculus of audiences, advertising, and media platforms. To put it bluntly, we hope to inspire media researchers worldwide with this blog put together by the INMA Europe Research Committee.



Blog team
Irene Fogarty
Research Executive
The Irish Times
Ireland
send message

Erik Grimm
Research Director
Cebuco
The Netherlands
send message

Ilse Peeters
Research Manager
De Persgroep
Belgium
send message


Insights & Intelligence Unit
Singapore Press Holdings Magazines
Singapore

Blog roll

FIPP
inPublishing
IPA
Mediaonderzoek.nl
OPA
research.
Researchblog
Sands Media Services
Scarborough Research
WARC


Blog archives

March 2016 ( 1 )
February 2016 ( 1 )
January 2016 ( 1 )
December 2015 ( 1 )
September 2015 ( 1 )
July 2015 ( 2 )
June 2015 ( 1 )
March 2015 ( 2 )
February 2015 ( 1 )
December 2014 ( 1 )
October 2014 ( 1 )
August 2014 ( 1 )
July 2014 ( 1 )
June 2014 ( 2 )
April 2014 ( 2 )
February 2014 ( 2 )
January 2014 ( 1 )
December 2013 ( 1 )
November 2013 ( 1 )
September 2013 ( 1 )



Join INMA Today
 
Upcoming Events
Jun
17
INMA Ideas Day on Audience Development
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
17 June 2016
Aug
23
INMA International News Media Conference
São Paulo, Brazil
23-24 August 2016
Aug
30
INMA South Asia News Media Conference
New Delhi, India
30-31 August 2016
Sep
14
INMA European News Media Conference
Monaco
14-17 September 2016
Sep
22
INMA Latin American News Media Conference
Panama City, Panama
22-23 September 2016
Oct
03
INMA Business Strategies 2020 Conference
Chicago, United States
03-04 October 2016
Oct
17
INMA Silicon Valley Study Tour
San Francisco, United States
17-21 October 2016

More Events

Member Profiles

  • Kick Zandbergen
    Netherlands


  • Jim Fogler
    United States


  • Gjyri Helen Werp
    Norway



  • Ambika Sharma
    India


  • Alon Marcovici
    Canada


  • Rajiv Verma
    India



©2016 INMA | Home | About | Contact | RSS | Privacy