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World-first study finds video advertising lasts longer in the memory on some platforms than others

Groundbreaking research from respected marketing science academic, Professor Karen Nelson-Field, reveals the extent to which video advertising affects consumers’ product choices for up to a month after they are exposed to an ad.

The ‘Decay Edition’ of Professor Nelson-Field’s ongoing Benchmark Series, commissioned by ThinkTV, contains a number of findings that are designed to help advertisers and their agencies get the best out of video advertising.

rofessor Nelson-Field found that ads placed in a TV content feed, viewed on any screen, positively impact sales for far longer than ads on either Facebook or YouTube. In fact, memory retention for TV advertising was so strong that its impact on sales after 28 days was greater than Facebook or YouTube could generate at their peak, that is, immediately after viewers saw ads on those platforms. Professor Nelson-Field puts this down to TV’s superior viewability.

Professor Nelson-Field used bespoke A.I. machine-learning technology and eye-tracking software to remove human bias in her team’s data gathering for the Benchmark Series, which is explained below* and here, in this short video.

This latest tranche of the Benchmark Series sought to understand and compare the length of time after exposure that an ad can impact consumer product choice (sales) on the three major video platforms – Facebook, YouTube, and TV – across different screens.

Earlier findings had revealed short term sales impact scores for the three platforms by asking more than 2,500 participants* to visit an online supermarket to choose products they wanted to purchase immediately after being exposed to a series of ads.

In this latest tranche, Professor Nelson-Field asked participants to re-visit the online supermarket 14 days and then 28 days after initial exposure. Professor Nelson-Field discovered that the residual effect of an ad exposure varies significantly by platform and screen, specifically that:

  1. Upon re-testing, TV and Broadcaster Video-on-Demand (BVOD) advertising was shown again to have the strongest impact on sales immediately after exposure compared to Facebook or YouTube, irrespective of screen.
  2. Ads watched in a TV content feed, viewed on any screen, generated a stronger impact on sales immediately after exposure than ads watched on YouTube or Facebook, and continued to generate greater impact long after Facebook and YouTube advertising memories had stopped influencing consumers’ product choices.
  3. Advertising on Facebook and YouTube faded from memory quickly and had an impact on sales for little more than six days, whereas TV advertising’s impact on sales lasted 10 times longer.
  4. For every one day of impact generated from Facebook or YouTube advertising, the equivalent impact from TV/BVOD advertising was nine days.

Commenting on the results, Professor Nelson-Field said: “These new results show that some platforms work better than others when it comes to delivering that other crucial element of media effectiveness, the ability to be remembered over time. Not only does TV advertising generate a greater sales impact in the short term, it also sustains that sales effect by remaining in consumers’ memories for longer.

“TV continues to have this impact because of viewability. Tranche One of Benchmark showed that screen coverage and pixels are the dominant factor in generating attention and cut-through. TV commercials play full screen, are 100% viewable and do not suffer from playing ‘below the fold’ or scrolling. So TV wins in two ways. Its sales impact is high up front and its decay rate is slower than competitors.

“It’s important to note that advertising works by reaching lots of people close to the buying occasion. Our decay results highlight one single group of people that were exposed to an ad on a particular day. But there will always be a new group of unique TV watchers tomorrow. So buying fewer impressions because the decay rate on one single exposure is superior to online would be the wrong conclusion to draw from this research. All you would do is simply miss reaching lots of new people who are close to a purchase occasion.”

Kim Portrate, chief executive of ThinkTV, said: “The latest Benchmark findings clearly demonstrate that TV is not only the best video media platform for short-term sales impact, TV is also the best for long-term effects by enabling creative to be remembered for longer. And long-term effects are important for brand growth. All advertising fades over time but TV ads shine brightest and fade slowest, leading to stronger cut-through and impact on sales and longer campaign retention.

“On mobile, BVOD is the optimal choice if you want your ad to continue to impact of your target audience’s product choices over time. And when it comes to the longer-term, TV content on a TV screen remains king for influencing consumer behaviour.”

Steve Weaver, Director of Research, Insights and Education at ThinkTV, said: “It is fascinating to discover that the residual impact from advertising in a TV content feed on mobile after 28 days is at around the same level that online platforms can deliver at their peak, immediately after the exposure.”

*What was the Methodology?
Using bespoke A.I. machine-learning technology and eye-tracking software, 2,583 Australians were exposed to 18,219 advertisements under natural viewing conditions in the home. Respondents were then tasked to go shopping in an online shopping mall, where they were able to consider up to 38,745 different brands including the ones they were exposed to in the study’s advertising. Called ‘Discrete Choice Modelling’, this approach is widely used and is academically validated as the most accurate way to reveal consumers’ actual choice of brand as opposed to mere intention to buy. For more on methodology see the following explainer videos, which can be embedded into stories: Benchmark Series Methodology in 2 minutesBenchmark Series Methodology in 4 minutes.

^ How is STAS measured?
STAS is the acronym for Short-Term Advertising Strength. STAS is calculated by determining the proportion of category buyers who bought a specific brand having not been exposed to that brand’s advertising, and comparing this to the proportion of category buyers who were exposed to advertising and went on to buy the brand. A STAS score of 100 indicates no advertising impact, in that those who were exposed to the advertising were just as likely to purchase as those who were not. A score above 100 indicates that the advertising had an impact on sales.

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