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Marketing,Media Planning

Neuroscience And The Media Plan

Brand managers could think about spending more money on cinema, and perhaps a bit less on social media, according to new theories of how our brains process commercial messages.

Marketers and media owners have long known that the media environment influences how people respond to advertising.

An automaker’s ad highlighting a car’s design for example usually works better when placed in magazines or TV shows about design, rather than those about cars.

At the same time, the mood people are in at the time as well as an ad’s sensory impact can also boost effectiveness.

That’s one reason why marketers should think of multiplexes as places to experience well-made commercials, as well as the latest films.

However, that’s not the only reason cinemas are good venues for branding messages, points out Peter Steidl, who has co-authored a new beginners’ guide to neuromarketing.

Research suggests that sensory elements within an ad help reinforce key messages, as long as people have already seen it once in full.

The heightened visual and audio intensity that a cinema provides can be especially effective in making an ad or brand message easier to remember.

Memorable media

Once viewed, at home or on the big screen, these prompts even apply to ads seen at high-speed, as people fast-forward the ad breaks from pre-recorded programs, or those just heard as viewers turn to their tablets and smartphones when waiting for a commercial break to end.

“Given the importance of creating a strong ad memory in the first place, we could argue that the role of cinema advertising, and other high-impact media, in the media mix deserves to be re-evaluated,” proposes Australia-based Steidl, principal and founder of specialist consultancy Neurothinking.

This can also include other media vehicles where the ads are more closely aligned with the experience as a whole, such as the Super Bowl.

Most ads experienced in a passive environment, including TV and cinema advertising, tend to appeal to the non-conscious part of our brains, Steidl explains.

These indirect routes to action are arguably the most effective kinds of commercial messaging, as the non-conscious mind largely shapes how people think about brands, products and companies.

Attitudes and impulse

While unacknowledged by the conscious brain, this is where most purchase decisions – including what to buy – are made.

Ads experienced in a more active environment, such as online and social media, are better at direct response, and moving people down the path to purchase.

The trouble is, Steidl points out, advertisers tend to use the same yardstick for both to measure media effectiveness.

“The use of recall as a key measure of effectiveness is inadequate or misleading when the marketer is going down the indirect road to effectiveness – which, by the way, is the more promising one for most brands, most of the time,” Steidl says.

Reach remains important

While neuroscience challenges some traditional beliefs about how marketing works, some fundamentals however remain true.

Reach is still critical – limiting the scope for premium media owners on many media plans.

Even more importantly, media thinking counts for little if the creative execution fails to deliver.

Nonetheless, neuroscience – the study of how people react to stimuli – should play a greater role in finetuning both the message and the medium, Steidl argues.

Even good creative should make the most of a particular medium, connecting with the non-conscious as well as conscious parts of the brain.

“Without a strong ad memory, it is becoming increasingly difficult for an ad – and therefore, a brand – to be recognized and processed in the way we want.”

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