Sharethrough, a software company that enables leading websites and apps to manage their in-feed, native ads, commissioned a study “A Neuroscience Perspective: Asessing Visual Focus, Message Processing & The Ability To Strengthen Associations Through Mobile Native Advertising” from Nielsen to determine how consumers visually process mobile ads. What’s interesting about this particular study is that instead of the usual survey-based research, it applied eye tracking and neuroscience—the study of subconscious reactions in the brain—to mobile advertising.
According to Sharethrough:
Unlike survey-based mobile measurement, which evaluates a consumer’s conscious reactions to ads, neuroscience taps into the brain’s subconscious reactions as well. This is critical: the subconscious is the motivating force behind many of our actions, including which brands we buy from.
To understand the effectiveness of mobile advertising, the study (conducted in accordance with Nielsen’s proprietary methodology) compared native ads and banners, both placed in-feed. Nielsen worked with ﬁve premium advertisers, including Boeing, creating mock ads from similar creative elements that were optimized for each format. Study participants were shown a video simulating the experience of scrolling through an editorial feed. The feed is paused and the participant is shown either a native ad or an in-feed banner. Using a combination of EEG data— measurements of neural activity in the brain—and eye tracking, Nielsen quantiﬁed where and how the participants’ focus was being directed.
Among the key findings, which Sharethrough explores in more detail, are:
- Native Ads Appear to Receive Two Times More Visual Focus than Banners
- Banners Are Processed Peripherally
- Native Ads Are Being Read
- Native Ad Headlines Can Be Optimized to Trigger Associations
- Brand Assets Impact Brand Resonance Lift
Quartz’ Alice Truong takes a look at the research in her article:
Scientific proof that no one pays attention to banner ads