What is the “sofa effect” and how has it changed the expectations of our audience? How do smartphones and tablets influence the perception of video advertising and viewer attention in general? Why should we use humor and act with caution? How can we hook the consumer into the flow of information? Find the answers to these questions and more.
Based on the newest Nielsen’s study, Valoso conducted an analysis to find out why consumers buy certain products, when and where they do it, and what is behind the making of such decisions. The findings allow us to understand how we can optimize advertising messages and how we can increase viewer attention so they focus on our message. Let’s check it out!
How Information Flow Affects our Brain
Only twenty years ago, the only screen that almost all consumers watched was a TV in the living room. And today the number of screens continues to increase steadily. It is often possible to see one person owning a laptop, tablet, smartphone, smartwatch, etc. With the spread and acceptance of all these devices, each year the information flow becomes bigger.
People find it more difficult to catch what is really important and brands find it more challenging to reach their consumers. A huge information flow “bombards” people who do not have time to take it all in; the brain characteristically does not want to accept this overload. For the advertising message to stand out, it is necessary to understand how people perceive information. It will help us in attracting a higher rate of viewer attention.
The human brain is the most complex structure studied in the universe. On average, it has 100 billion neurons. And each neuron has at least 10-20 thousand connections. When users meet with any information, they process it, which results in three different reactions:
- Emotional involvement. This is simple: when something is personally relevant, people remember the message.
- Rejection. The message is not liked, and the person does not want to see it.
- Ignoring. The most common reaction, this reaction is merely protecting the brain from a huge influx of information.
Ignoring occurs before the stage of awareness, that is, viewers may not even realize that they are missing something.
The Neuroscience of Video Advertising
Daniel Kahneman, Psychologist and Nobel laureate in Economics, put forth that people are mostly irrational. The human brain almost always works “on autopilot,” and only sometimes is there a rational component that analyzes the situation fully to draw conclusions.
People do not react to what they see immediately. For example, in a graphic portraying a stressful situation, the pulse quickens. But the stress may manifest later in the form of worry and a person may or not make the connection between what they feel now and what they saw.
Interrogative methods disable the “autopilot” – literally forcing people to think about answering the question, although they often do not do so, and instead become engulfed in indecision. There is also a small lag time between what really happened and the thought process people have when they think about what happened.
During the neuroscientific research, respondents in the Nielsen Study are not asked any questions until a time after seeing the ad. Usually, their answers are what you would expect: they remember what they liked and what they did not like.
Unconscious vs. Conscious Reactions
So not only are we experiencing conscious reactions, like immediate dislike or laughing, was are also able to study unconscious reactions, which are measured using the following tools:
- The electroencephalograph (EEG) is a small helmet with 32 sensors that measure changes in the particular area of the brain that is responsible for emotional involvement, activation of viewer’s attention, and memory. These 32 sensors measure the brain’s response 500 times per second.
- The polygraph (lie detector) measures the pulse and the electrical conductivity of the skin. However, the indicators can be influenced if desired, so the biometrics data are not always reliable. There are even courses on how to deceive a polygraph.
- FACS (Facial Action Coding System) is a codifier for facial expressions. It is necessary to understand what emotion is from the qualitative point of view of the respondent. FACS, like biometrics, is not always objective. Human emotions are a social factor. If a person watches a comedy alone, he often does not show emotion. But if he joins someone else, they both laugh out loud.
- Eye-tracking. Eye-tracking allows determining the elements that the respondent is looking at in a given time. With its help, it can be established, for example, that on the seventh second of the video advert, the emotional involvement of the viewer increases.
Will Television Ultimately Fail?
Not long ago at all, a person used to spend 45 hours on consuming information every week. Now, this figure has grown to 66 hours per week. But even though the number of platforms has increased (smartphones, computers, tablets. etc.), people do not spend less time in front of the TV.
Research by Nielsen shows that both television and radio are still among the first sources of information when studying the number of hours spent consuming content.
However, the trend of growth in the number of platforms affects how people take in information. Now they combine several media channels at once. And the younger the person is, the more likely he/she will combine the use of different devices.
Interesting fact: people of the digital age switch channels 60% more often than those who were born before 2000. Over time, this indicator will grow even more. Consumers are using multiple platforms in order to maintain their level of involvement.
Once they get a little bored, they switch to another device. Viewer attention in this scenario is not good. The situation is even more complicated if people watch content together or with a couple of friends when everyone has several screens: then the switch takes place almost every minute.
Keeping the viewer becomes a very difficult task because people are constantly moving to those platforms that provide the most relevant information in any given moment
The Sofa Effect
How a video is perceived often depends on how the content is displayed and what platform is used. According to Nielsen’s research, emotional involvement is most common among PC users due to the fact that they can control the most interesting content.
Nielsen’s marketers analyzed how the screen and its dimensions affect whether the respondents watch the video to the end. It turned out that the “sofa effect” works for TV but not for other devices.
The Sofa effect takes place when viewers realize that they can watch what they see, and when switching the channel there is no guarantee that there will be something more interesting.
In the case of a smartphone, tablet, and PC, most likely the user will switch during ads. Also, the smaller the screen, the less a person pays attention to the kind of advertising and the brand itself.
Top 6 Ways To Increase Viewer Attention
With the help of tracking using the above-described methods, Nielsen researchers identified these six factors that improve viewer attention most actively.
- Faces. As soon as people see the emotion on the face of the advert’s hero, they try to “mirror” it. When people appear in advertising, it is important to take this into account. The expression of emotions is like the mirror neurons of the brain. If viewers see an emotion, they immediately try to test it on themselves, to imagine why the video hero uses this emotion.
- Humor. This is an ambiguous moment. On the one hand, humorous videos usually reach high activity numbers, catching the viewer’s attention. However, they have a very high “wear” effect. With each new view, the efficiency will fall because the viewer already knows the meaning of the joke, and it’s less funny with every new time.
- Audio. People use different ways of perceiving information and therefore it is important to communicate with them not only visually but also by sound.
- Motion. The brain pays attention to any movement because it can carry both something positive and negative. If there is a moving object in the final stage of branding, it is better that it moves towards the logo, and not from it. It’s the same if you use the face of a person who is looking somewhere. Let him look where you need to attract his attention.
- The Center Factor. When the screen does not have moving elements or expressive faces to draw the eye, people are looking at the center of the screen. Therefore, it is better to have the most important elements in the middle of the frame.
- Story. Stories are used in supporting and building up emotional involvement. It is very important for the effectiveness of the ad’s communication.
It’s Time to Act
As you can see, Nielsen’s staff conducted a very thorough and detailed research from which we can draw conclusions about viewer attention, and act on them.
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