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What neuroscience reveals about successful CTV ads

September 26, 2023 | By Rande Price, Research VP – DCN

In the evolving advertising landscape, the shift from traditional linear television to digital platforms offers new ways for marketers to reach their audiences. However, while advertisers have new tools and techniques to target audiences, viewers are confronted with ads that disrupt their viewing experience, feel irrelevant, or annoy them. And new research uses neuroscience to demonstrate how context and tone affect advertising’s impact in CTV environments.  

Integral Ad Science (IAS) and Neuro-Insight’s new study, The Mind on the Stream, explores how advertisers can enhance the relevance of their CTV ads through tone and context. The research shows an increase of 14% in brand impact when the ads match the tone of the content viewed on CTV. Ads that match the context of the content experience show a significant boost in brand impact, +39%. Moreover, ads that match tone and context result in a greater significant increase of 49% in brand impact.

Matching advertising with content’s tone and context

The study includes a cohort of 137 participants in a controlled environment simulating an ad-supported streaming experience. All participants watch the same program content. During this simulated streaming experience, participants see 20 ads from 20 known brands across various verticals, including food/beverage, telecommunications, entertainment, finance, and consumer packaged goods (CPG). The ads vary in terms of length and narrative style.

The research tests the ads in two ways: tone/context and frequency.

Group 1 participants undergo tone and context variations, where some ads match the show’s context, some match its tone, and some match both tone and context.

  • Tone matches when advertisers ensure that their ads align with the overall feeling or voice of the content they accompany. In this study, since the program content is humorous, the research examines the impact of running ads that are also humorous.
  • Context matches when there’s a thematic or tangible connections between an ad and the program content. For instance, if the show features basketball, a contextually matched ad would also incorporate basketball elements.

Group 2 participants encounter different ad frequencies, with some ads appearing once, twice, three times, or four times during the program.

The study includes several metrics to measure the impact between Group 1 and Group 2 exposures.

  • Detailed memory measures ad memorability and brand impact by analyzing how well viewers retain specific details from the ads.
  • Emotional intensity gauges the emotional impact of the ads on viewers, with high scores indicating a strong emotional connection.
  • Global memory assesses how well viewers remember the visual, audio, and thematic elements.
  • Engagement measures the personal relevance of ad content to viewers.
  • Approach/Withdraw identifies the “lean in” or “I want to learn more” response from viewers, indicating likeability and overall positivity or negativity towards the ads.

Ad frequency

Interestingly, viewers overall show lower interest in ads repeated multiple times on CTV. However, ads that align with the video content mitigate the negative impact of repetition and perform better among viewers despite increased frequency. While brand impact remains consistent through the third viewing of a CTV ad, the fourth viewing results in a significant decline of 26%. This emphasizes the importance of limiting ad frequency to three viewings to preserve viewer connection and comprehension.

Advertisers and streaming publishers can optimize their ad strategies and drive better results when matching ad tone and context with the content viewed on CTV. The study also underscores the critical role of ad frequency in viewer engagement. By embracing contextual targeting, marketers and publishers have an opportunity to shift ad budgets and deliver impactful results in the digital advertising landscape.

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