News & Opinion

Neuro-Insight brain tracking: How to stand out from the crowd

As retailers reveal their Christmas sales figures, we take a look at what makes a successful ad and how to stand out from the crowd.

Many retailers moved away from big brand campaigns in favour of product-focused ads this Christmas, writes Ellen Hammett in Marketing Week. John Lewis and Tesco enjoyed stronger results, which Hammett says confirms the obvious: "It is easy to turn brand love into sales, but it is much harder to generate long term emotional engagement by focusing on sales alone."

With so much clutter in the market, especially around Christmas, we took a closer look at the festive ads from brands including Marks & Spencer, Lindt, John Lewis and Schweppes to see how they performed in a brain-tracking consumer test.

Newsworks partnered with Neuro-Insight to investigate the effectiveness of these ads using unique brain-tracking technology, which measures electrical activity in different areas of the brain to discover the public’s reaction.

Readers were shown 12 different print ads in a random order for a duration of eight seconds per ad. Neuro-Insight measured six key metrics:

Long-term memory encoding – this is perhaps the most important measure as it is proven to correlate with decision-making and purchase intent

Attention – visual attention is measured in both the left and right brains. This can often be fleeting, and doesn’t necessarily link to memory

Engagement – an indicator of how involved people are and is usually triggered by material seen to be personally relevant

Emotional intensity – this relates to the strength of emotion being experienced

Approach/withdrawal – refers to the “direction” of the emotion being experienced and whether it is positive or negative

Desirability – this is measure of attractiveness, representing the desire to physically reach out to something in the visual field

Our three-day ’12 ads of Christmas’ competition, using the results from the brain-tracking research, featured some particularly strong festive ads, including:

John Lewis – John Lewis' "For gifts that are more than just a gift" featuring a delicately placed set of Bose Wireless headphones performed strongly in terms of desirability, indicating an attraction towards the headphones featured in the creative.

Lindt – Lindt's creative decadently showed its melting Lindor chocolate being poured into a delicious truffles. The ad exhibited the highest levels of memory encoding, indicating that the text detail effectively resonated with viewers. Scoring highly on desirability shows respondents want to reach for the chocolate. Lindt was the overall winner due to its strong response in both of these metrics for the duration of exposure.

Schweppes – Schweppes'’ Cocktail Christmas tree ad performed strongly across a number of the metrics, notably emotional intensity, engagement and approach. Out of all 12 ads tested, Schweppes elicited the highest peak of desirability.

After some excellent festive ads, we look forward to seeing what creatives these brands have to offer throughout 2019!

by James Spellins 17/01/19

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