These are the core findings of major new research by Orlando Wood, author of Lemon (IPA, 2019), in conjunction with Peter Field, that reveals that online video advertising with human and unexpected features (right-brain) is more likely to generate market share, profit and sales gain than online advertising with more instructive and mechanistic features (left-brain). The research, which uses the IPA’s Effectiveness Databank and is produced in partnership with Facebook, was delivered by Wood the virtual IPA-led EffWorks Global 2020 Conference where he outlined the magic combination found at the heart of effective right-brained campaigns.
This latest research, Achtung!, builds on the lessons from Wood’s seminal 2019 book, Lemon, and demonstrates how they apply to online video. He extends the advertising feature-set examined in Lemon to include characteristics that might have a specific bearing on attention (of particular importance in online video), such as ‘frontality’ (left brain) and the ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ (right brain), among others.
Five key findings:
- The same set of right-brain features in video advertising that elicit an emotional response also achieve higher levels of attention (US data provided by TVision and System1); left-brain features disengage.
- Overlaying these features on campaigns in the IPA’s Databank that use online video (2016-2020), with analysis conducted by Peter Field, Orlando reveals how right-brained video campaigns generate greater numbers of very large business effects, and are more likely to report market share, profit and sales gains. This is despite these campaigns having lower Extra Share of Voice and shorter campaign durations than the left-brained campaigns in the set. This also holds true for the subset of campaigns where online is the dominant video channel (i.e. average online video budget is greater than TV video budget). The analysis finds that video campaigns with left-brained features, on the other hand, are more likely to drive direct effects and web traffic. Orlando suggests that these left-brain campaigns work by and large by priming a receptive, narrow target audience with immediate brand reminders.
- In a further analysis, Facebook selected 100 ads from large corporate campaigns for review. These campaigns adhered to Facebook’s minimum required media best practices (e.g. reach, duration, frequency) to minimise the impact of the media factors in any analysis. The analysis reveals that the Facebook ads were heavily skewed towards left brain features. The 10 most and 10 least right-brained ads were selected, based on the features that were present in the first 3 seconds of the ad, for in-context attention (Lumen) and, separately, emotional response (System1) testing. Attention measurement reveals that ads that sustain attention over the first six seconds are more likely to include right-brained features upfront. Campaigns were also assessed on Facebook’s ‘brilliant basics’ guidelines. Ads that meet the brilliant basics criteria perform better than campaigns that don’t, but a further analysis shows that greater success can be achieved – beyond adherence to Facebook’s brilliant basics guidelines – by ads that achieve stronger emotional response (a higher Star rating). Furthermore, Facebook’s analysis shows that even the mildly right-brained ads found in this set of ads perform slightly better on Facebook success rates (that is to say, achieving at least one of brand lift, conversion, and sales lifts).
- In a final analysis, Orlando examined 100 ads that had appeared in 2020 on YouTube (selected at random from a longer list provided by Nielsen). The 10 most right-brained and 10 most left-brained ads (defined by features appearing in their first 5 seconds) were tested for in-context attention (Lumen) and emotional response (System1). Again, the right-brained ads are more likely to sustain attention and elicit an emotional response.
- The attentional and emotional advantages enjoyed by right-brained work are seen not just overall, but within brand. Ads with more right-brained features enjoy greater attention and emotional response than ads for the same brand with fewer right-brained features. Controlling for brand in this way indicates that the stronger emotional and attentional performance of right-brained advertising in this study is not merely a function of brand size.
Says Orlando Wood, Chief Innovation Officer, System1 Group: "If emotional response is important on TV, it is imperative online. Emotional response not only helps to sustain attention in the viewer, but it also ensures they remember your brand – and prioritise it – over others in the future. To drive long and broad effects in online video, ‘relevance’ isn’t enough; advertising has to entertain. This means focusing on the living and the out-of-the-ordinary, played out in something approaching the real world."
The importance of Orlando's research in an increasingly digital advertising marketplace cannot be overstated. It should serve as a massive wake-up call to the armies of digital marketers who have preached the ‘timely and relevant information’ mantra for the last 20 years and rejected the idea of entertaining advertising: they urgently need to rethink, if online video is to sit at the top table of long-term advertising effectiveness.
Watch Orlando's EffWorks Global 2020 presentation:
His research will be published in full at a later date.