Shorter, Better, Cheaper? Neuroscience Can Do That

The growth of spending on U.S. digital and TV advertising is unmistakable, with over $98 billion being spent in 2016, and $99 billion in 2017*. But it’s not just growing in scope. It’s also becoming more complex. Video doesn’t just live on television anymore, as people watch video in varying formats and lengths across a variety of devices and platforms. With new creative best practices seeming to emerge daily, marketers aren’t always clear on how to develop engaging advertising campaigns.

What if there were an easier way to create a portfolio of ads to meet the demands of consumers changing preferences? Not quite a “one ring to rule them all” approach, but a way to efficiently optimize one video for a variety of channelseliminating the cost and effort associated with developing creative for every platform. Over the years, Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience has been developing a technology to help marketers navigate this ever-changing media landscape. We’re excited to share that we’ve recently been awarded a patent for our proprietary algorithm, issued by the U.S. Patent & Trademark office (No. 9,886,981), to help brands create shorter but equally effective ads based on neuroscience-derived measures.

So how does this technology work? After capturing consumers’ second-by-second neurological responses to a 30-second video ad using electroencephalography (EEG) equipment, our compression algorithm identifies which segments of the ad have the most potential to engage target consumers. Agency partners can then use the output to guide the development of shorter ads for television, digital and mobile screens by refining existing content to develop a :15 from a :30 or a :06 from a :15.

This novel approach provides our clients with unparalleled insights that can deliver significant media efficiencies in a world in which shorter ads are gaining in popularity across platforms and seen as a gateway to reaching younger consumers.

What does this mean for advertisers? Our research has shown two significant and primary benefits from utilizing the insights provided by the algorithm:

  • Performance. Compressed ads deliver an equal or better level of engagement and brand resonance than the original versions.
  • Efficiency. Compressed ads can be significantly less expensive to produce and place, resulting in higher ROI compared to longer formats when used in the right places and in the right ways.

As validation of the first point above, Nielsen conducted a study of 80 ads, from more than 30 brands across 15 categories, to assess the effects of using our ad compression algorithm. The findings were revealing:

  • 96% of the compressed ads performed as well as or better than the original ad on key performance metrics.
  • EEG-based scores for emotional engagement and memory activation increased for all compressed ads included in the study.
  • EEG-based scores for attention processing decreased, meaning compressed ads were less taxing on the brain and required less cognitive effort to process.
  • EEG-based scores for brand resonance increased or remained the same 76% of the time.

“This comprehensive look into the inner workings of shorter ads and brand resonance among consumers is truly groundbreaking—especially as it helps increase the ROI for our clients,” said Dr. Carl Marci, Chief Neuroscientist at Nielsen. “By adding this proven ad compression capability to our suite of our neurological-based scientific solutions, we will continue to provide marketers and their respective brands with unparalleled insights to break through and succeed in this increasingly distracted marketplace.”

Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience has focused on building a comprehensive patent portfolio in order to provide our clients with a unique collection of best-in-class neuroscience technologies that deliver high quality consumer insights. We maintain the largest patent portfolio in the pervasive neurotechnology industry, with a total of 188 patents and pending applications worldwide. Nielsen’s ad compression technology is just another way that we’re helping advertisers navigate the ever-changing media landscape.

*Source: Nielsen Ad Intel & Nielsen Ad Intel Digital Data, powered by Pathmatics and Nielsen

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