Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Making Your TV Spots More Effective

New research by Harvard Business School Professor Thales S. Teixeira purportedly offers a simple and inexpensive solution to help marketers hold on to consumer eyeballs during television commercial breaks.
"The days when you could tell a consumer what to do are long gone," says Teixeira. "In the 1960s, the brand was onscreen all the time with a direct message: 'Drink a Coke,' for instance. Today, people are searching for valuable information that is relevant to them. They also want to be entertained, and the 'hard sell' that turns them off can be at the level of simply presenting the brand's logo for more than a few seconds."

Using their findings as a basis for editing commercials, Julia Hanna writes that Teixeira and his coauthors show that "pulsing" repeated, brief images of the brand can significantly reduce the likelihood that viewers will zap it, as opposed to showing the brand for long periods of time at the beginning or end of the ad.
  • Viewers' attention should be managed as any other scarce resource.
  • Repeating or "pulsing" brief images of a brand can significantly reduce the likelihood that viewers will zap it.
  • Altering commercials to mimic a pulsing strategy is a virtually cost-free fix for a significant payoff.
"The dilemma is that our findings show that brand images cause people to zap," Teixeira says. "But they're a necessary evil; without the brand, viewers can't identify what is being sold. So how do you make an ad that includes the brand without causing a high level of zapping?"

The radio equivalent of that, of course, is finding a way to pair your brand with an emotion, and it always has seemed to me that it's a big mistake to produce an entertaining spot that just tags your brand on for a few seconds at the very end.
"Sometimes advertisers say that they're creative and can't be constrained by science or academic research," he says. "But this isn't really a constraint, and our results show that it can help advertisers achieve the goal of getting their message out to more people."

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