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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Introduction

The purpose of this project is to discuss the key features that make ads memorable and the behaviour caused if an ad is memorable.  This whole project originates from ‘Six Secrets of Persuasion Video' by Robert Cialdini.  In the video it discusses why the individual complies to certain things such as tips at a restaurant.  This caused me to think of the reasons why we purchase products due to the advertising behind it.  The purpose of this project is to analyse the most important features that cause an ad to be memorable and how this affects the brain.  Firstly, one element of this is the emotional connection with the viewer through the storytelling.  This helps the viewer to maintain attention with the ad causing it to be encoded into the long term memory.  Music also plays a vital role in advertising because it has been shown to increase arousal, and keep the viewer entertained, it also can act as an unconscious stimuli, and be stored in the long term memory due to rehearsal.  This creates a brand loyalty and awareness that an effective ad aims to achieve.  Then I intend to look at neuromarketing, and how the ads affect the behaviour of the individual to purchase a product.  This is how I will discuss the features of a memorable advert.   

Emotional Connection

The first feature of an ad which causes it to be memorable is the emotional connection with the viewer.  The emotional response of the viewer grips their attention and increases the ability to influence their perception of the brand and recall of the message.   The memorability through message recall has a more positive impact through emotional ads than informative commercials.  This has been proven by Neurofocus using electroencephalogram (EEG), which are electrodes placed on the participants scalp that create electrical currents to measure brain waves during each scene in ads.  The experiment was split into two parts, the attention and the emotional engagement.  The attention aspect monitored if it was found interesting, but does not influence the purchase of the product.  The emotional engagement persuades the customer and they feel compelled to the brand causing it to be more memorable.  However there is a limitation to using EEG as it does not have good spatial resolution as it cannot directly locate the neurons in the brain especially in deeper structures.  There is also a constant level of activity that the brainwaves produce that is not specifically from the ad, but from other stimuli.   The first scene of an ad is the most important for the emotional connection because it makes the first impression of the brain and decides which emotion is appropriate.  Recall in ads is affected by the different levels of emotion and using strong emotions can help viewers to make a purchase which is more effective than if the strong emotion was not used.

Ads promoting positive emotional responses generate higher levels of positive attitudes towards the commercial which increases engagement.  It also makes us more likely to share the message of the ad which results in a more successful ad for the brand than ads that imply a negative message.  Sadness is a harder emotion to convey in ads because the goal is to provoke empathy but not to cause distress to the viewer because then the ad may be remembered, but for the wrong reasons causing a negative brand attitude.  Empathy is promoted by an oxytocin hormone and when this hormone is released it promotes more trust and generosity.  This could help build brand attitude as trustworthy, and can increase sales.  Anger, takes less than three seconds to make an impression which is especially useful with key topics that want to irritate the consumer to react such as global warming to advocate a change that they will be affected as an individual by.  Finally fear is used in advertising by highlighting the risks and effects it has caused such as smoking, this can scare people to bring about a change.  However is not always effective for something such as smoking which is addictive and therefore harder to change the consumers habit.

When we first view emotional ads our immediate impression is usually to rationalise them, then to make cognitive sense as we try to relate it to our past experiences making it more memorable and easier to recall.  Overall, our attentioning process is out of our conscious control of the individual, and emotion, meaning any emotional adverts will grab our attention making it more memorable.

The emotional effects of ads are created through sensationalism which is believed to increase the arousal of viewers sensory and emotional response creating stronger reactions to the ad.  

However the way the message content is processed depends upon the consumers current state of feelings.  A negative mood causes a strong message content to be recalled than a weak one whereas a positive mood cannot tell between the two as easily.  This can be affected by gender, age and the viewers own preferences.

If you make an emotional connection with the ad you will pay more attention to it.  Studies have show how crucial emotion is in advertising for recall and memorisation and that we make an emotional connection with the ad before a rational one is made.  This happens mainly in the prefontal cortex and striatum which are vital in emotional processing.  The consumer's decision whether or not to buy the product or service is usually not made at the same time of viewing the ad, as the memory of the ad messages influence the consumer later on such as when viewing the product in a shop, and the stronger the emotion during the ad, the more likely it will be remembered and the product will be purchased.  It was also found that emotions enhance your long term memory of ads on television.  It is highly effective when recalling individual scenes and lasts up to twenty eight days later.  When doing this experiment (Ambler and Burne) the participant also took treatment drugs to block the emotional response of ads and then to recall the level of recall as affective and cognitive ads were the same unlike the control group whose emotional responses were not blocked and they could recall more of the emotional ads.  In another experiment (Hazlett and Hazlett) the participants facial expressions were measured by electromyography (EMG) to see the positive and negative emotions during ads and it showed that the highest emotional commercial was better recalled with 80% of the cases in women and 100% of the cases in men.  There are other factors to consider such as if it gripped their attention or emotional connection.  However it is worth to note that measuring emotional connection through facial features may not be completely accurate as they are unable to show the internal feelings of the viewer.

 

However the method of measuring memorability of ads is through recall which is verbal and an ad that evokes an emotional response is harder to measure as recall.  This is because it  would only test the memorability and not the emotional affect.  The viewer would find it difficult to verbalise their emotions and the effect it has on them.  Also verbal recall is left-brain activity and emotional images on television are largely right side hemisphere of the brain so may not be an accurate measurement.

Music can also stimulate the emotional connection of a viewer with the ad which increases brand attitude and purchase intent.   

Music

Music during advertising has been proved to attract attention, and explicit recognition creating a higher awareness level to the ad, and increases memorability of the ad in the short term and long term.  Music can increase the message of the ad even for consumers who are not paying attention directly, and enhances the viewers' arousal and effect. This can be caused by a song or a jingle, if marketeers get the right soundtrack paired with an ad, it can increase emotional response and increase the desire to purchase a product which causes positive brand attitude and increases sales.  The purpose behind the music is more affective than cognitive and can increase emotional response.  

The tone of the music can affect the viewers emotions such as major tones in music can influence the viewers and increase happiness and minor tones can increase the viewers sadness.  If the marketeers want to causes a strong emotion such as fear adding distressing music will change the viewers pleasure of the ad.  This can affect the viewers feelings whilst watching the ad. but may not change the purchase intent.  Exciting music increases the viewers attention and the emotional arousal which is noticed through increasing heart rate and through the skin.  This can help keep attention and will therefore assist the viewer in remembering the ad for a longer period of time.

Not many extensive studies have been done to test music to ad memorability, however, research shows that when applying music to ads that the emotions were affected.  When the music was paired with the correct type of ad then more attention from the viewer was noticed.  It also showed that correct music for the ad can facilitate the brand and ad recall.   When the results caused no effect on emotions then it was due to a poor match between the ad and the music.  When the emotional aspects were studied,  the ads with music showed in a more positive direction, and others in the negative direction, showing that music can affect our emotions during ads and can enhance the images.  Research has shown that unconscious reactions to ads stimuli give a more accurate representation of the true thoughts of the viewer than the conscious verbal thoughts that the viewer provide, as they could adapt their answer which may not necessarily be their true thoughts (Halpern).  

Take for example, another research (Jon Morris and Mary Boone) was a pen and paper test section one tested an episode of Friends and section 2 tested implicit memory for an ad which was an indirect test and test 3 directly tested the memory for an ad.  They found that learning a recall on non musician and musician performed equally well with verbal and visual stimuli of the ad and recalled more information when music was applied to it.  This is showing that when music is added to ads it can increase the recall even when not musically trained.  Memory performance was influenced the most by musical reinforcement and not the musical training of the participant showing that you don't need to be musically trained to be able to have an emotional connection with the ad which increases memorability.  

In some ads jingles are used which makes it easier to retrieve the information of the ad and is more likely to get ‘stuck in your head'.  A jingle is a short tune used in advertising which has a hook usually to reinforce the message of the brand.   When repeating this jingle to yourself you are reinforcing the ads message and visual and verbal knowledge from the it.  It acts as an mnemonic device and carries the product message making it easier to recall.  Unconscious stimuli such as a jingle is being reinforced through learning and it will subconsciously make the listener recall the information of the ad.

    

To summarise, music enhances memory because it increase the viewers attention to the ad and makes the purchase more likely.  Memorability is especially increased when the ad is played with a jingle which increases the chances of the viewer remembering the ad in the long term.  Music is essential in reinforcing the overall message of the ad without the viewers conscious efforts, however emotional connection has been shown to be the most important feature.

Effects of Ads on the Body

This is explained through the 3s Model which understands the relationship between media, human responses and language.  This is memory to effect to cognition.   

Brain

The best methods of measuring brain activity in the most non invasive ways are electroencephalography (EEG), magnetoencephalography (MEG) and functioning magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).   MEG is also used in brain activity measuring and has better spatial resolution than EEG but is limited at picking up brain activity on the surface therefore not beneficial for measuring subcortical area.  fMRI is aso used in the form of BOLD (blood level oxygen dependant) and can be very expensive so less available to use.

If an ad has scenes that cause the quickest electrical response in the left frontal hemisphere then it has shown to be more memorable.  It is not certain but researchers think that if an ad is memorable it will be transferred from the short term memory to the long term memory in the left hemisphere of the brain.  There are two sections of the memory, explicit which is information we are aware of and can be divided into episodic (memory of an event) and semantic (memory of facts).  The other section of memory is implicit which is memory we are not consciously aware of.

The electrochemical element represents electrons that pass through the neurons axon reaching the synapse which trigger neurotransmitters. These diffuse across the synaptic cleft attached to the next neuron.  Then a burst of electrical pulse passes to the next cell in the network.

The brain is visually wired so it can communicate more effectively and appeal more to the brain than words.  According to a study by 3M visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than words, whereas 80% of the text on most pages does not get read.  Therefore adverts are most effective visually than with words as it allows us to make an emotional connection with the ad and for the information to be processed quicker.   

The length of the ad affects our memory of it.  If the ad is longer than 1.5 seconds it is said to be more memorable than scenes in ads that last less than 1.5 seconds.  It has been shown that certain scenes of the ad are far more engaging for the consumer and are more significant for the brand.  The viewer pays the most attention at the beginning of the ad whereas the ending is the most memorable.  These scenes on the brain are studied using EEG and alpha waves between 8 and 13 Hz.  This indicates positive emotions in the left frontal lobe whereas normal brain activity is around the lower end of this scale for alpha waves.  In the right side of the frontal lobe negative emotions are noted.  However, these results are very variable depending on the ad and the power of its significant scene.

Different types of ads affect the brain in different ways.  Affective ads use more intense advertising effects such as drama which activates the amygdala (processes emotions), orbiotofrontal cortices (involved in decision making and rationalization) and brain stem (controls body functions and messages to rest of body).

Cognitive ads involve facts and figures as cognition is used in the form of rationalization which generally loses our attention causing it to be less memorable.  It mainly activates posterior parietal cortex (movements and attention), superior prefrontal cortex (decision making).  

According to studies (Ambler and Burne) the majority of decisions do not require affect or cognition they only require memory therefore making affective ads easier to recall.

The other types of ads are the messages of logical persuasion (LP) and nonrational influence (NI) which affects the brain activity.  LP had higher activity level by a larger amount in the orbitofrontal, anterior cingulate, amydala and hippocampus in delta and beta bands than NI.  The LP ads had higher ACC current which was needed to process the factual information and may engage learning.  Showing that LP ads may keep our attention and cause us to think meaning.  Therefore, a good storyline causes an emotional connection which will enhance brain activity.

 

Brand memories are all memories that the brand has created within a viewer.  There is not a designated area to brand recognition but brand recognition in the brain activates the area of the brain for semantic object processing.

When this is stored in our long term memory it makes it easier in the future for the brand as if it is paired with something familiar as the synapses are built up more quickly.  Especially if the ad is repeated more than once then these synapses get built up easier and faster making the learning by association more effective which means the repetition of ads is effective.

Ad recall is measuring the effectiveness of an ad in the long term after exposure.  The higher the engagement of the ad the higher the effectiveness and the recall.  Research shows us that memories of the ad start to decay after they are formed which has its steepest rate within the first 24 hours, then levels off.  This is not the best for brands as the viewer forgets the product after viewing the ad,  however the explicit  memory may be gone, but repetition can create long lasting memories for brands and also there may be brand recognition in the unconscious part of the brain (implicit memory).  Day after recall (DAR) is tested that affective ads are better recalled than cognitive, and also linked with decision making because they are emotive adverts (Zielske) which will enhance long term memory of the ad.

Research (Damasio) shows that viewing the ads (input) to actually purchasing the product (behavior) is suggested that it happens in the part of the brain associated with emotion and social skills (not cognition).  Therefore affective ads will wore more efficiently than cognitive ads.  

There is also a limitation on the measuring of an ad's memorability.  This is because it is difficult to gauge whether the potential consumer can recall the actual ad, or brand recognition.  Brand recall is research of who can recall the brand name when placed with other brands.  Recognition is who can recognise the brand in a particular product segment.  Therefore researchers must be cautious of which element they are testing as  they may be testing the recognition of a brand, whereas brand recall can be more suitable for memorability testing.  The researcher must also take into account that for each person the memorability of the ad will differ due to preferences and own individual opinion of what we think is memorable.  

Neuromarketing

Neuromarketing is neuroscience combined with marketing research.  This is studying the brains effects to marketing stimuli.  It uses EEG to measure brain activity; eye tracking to test which parts of the ad is most visually appealing; facial coding to analyze the emotional responses; galvanic skin responses associated with physiological arousal and engagement and finally fMRI scans.  The research scans loyal and less loyal customers using fMRI (measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow) and is also able to access the consumers true preferences of brands that they cannot verbally say.  This is more effective than the viewer describing their cognitive approach because there are many subconscious components.  The fMRI can access the hierarchy model this would firstly could be used to refine the product before it is released, and secondly can be used to measure responses to ads to increase sales.   Whereas for the less loyal customers they do not have the same reward pathway as the loyal ones.  

The ads for loyal customers create greater activation in the areas of the brain responsible for emotion and memory retrieval showing there are bonds between customer and brand which is the main reason for purchasing a product as they are more memorable.  The first neuromarketing research was by Read Montague and researched Coca Cola and Pepsi to measure the brain activity using a fMRI.  These brands are well known and  have the potential to control some of the frontal cortex.  The frontal lobe is where most of the executive functioning happens it also manages attention and short term memory which lights up when when people say they prefer Coke over Pepsi as a brand.  This happens due to compelling ads with an emotional connection with the viewer meaning stronger brand memories.  The customers willingness to purchase a product can also be measured under the fMRI which can measure activity levels which correlate to the media orbitofrontal cortex and prefrontal cortex.

Unconscious messages (implicit) are usually hidden within ads.  These act as a subliminal message that is inaudible to the conscious mind.  At the time of hearing these messages we are unaware of the ‘hidden' meaning.   These are mainly used to influence people to potentially bring about a change.  This was tested through measuring the MRI of the brain when viewing indoor and outdoor photos.  For the first viewing the conscious memory was in use, and the second time the participant looked for items they had remembered or forgotten in the first attempt by looking at the photos.  It was shown that there was a reduced brain activity level in the medial temporal brain regions.  The explicitly remembered photos had less brain activity proving that explicit and implicit memory correlate to the encoding of information.  

Marketeers hope neuromarketing will be able to create more effective ads thereby targeting the specific individual whilst also engaging the left frontal lobe as it is involved in positive emotions.  This can enable the seller of the product to associate that brand with the ‘positive' message which can be used to improve the ads so less money is wasted on ineffective ads.  It will also give more accurate allocation of resources before the product exists.  This could mean brands would test the product earlier and only develop it if the brain activity shows it to be promising.  

There are links between long term memory encoding and decision making which we can identify which can affect our future purchasing.  The most memorable ads contrast the pace of the ad; don't list facts; have high levels of conversation and affection; music followed by actions during the scenes, and also the brand name should not be too close to the ending.  All these factors combined will contribute to longer lasting memory of the ad which will affect future purchasing of the product.

Ad placement is also a very important aspect of neuromarketing.  If a viewer is already watching a television programme, they are already paying ‘attention' and therefore more likely to watch an ad.  This is called integrated placement which can increase engagement by 30% and lead to more long lasting memories. Companies wishing to place an ad during a highly watched programme - such as an important sporting event, can pay a huge premium to do so.  For example at the last American Super Bowl companies paid in excess of $5 million dollars for a 30 second ad.  

Brand Loyalty and Awareness  

Brand loyalty is the choice of one brand over another.  This is shown as changes in neural activity in the striatum which is part of the human action reward system.  If the brand has provided a good customer experience then the customer will remember the positive outcome and be more loyal to that brand when viewing ads in the future.  Research on an MRI found a large increase in brain activity in the orbitofrontal cortex, ventral striatum and anterior cingulate when looking at a more desirable product (high involvement).  This is because the branding of a more desirable product comes with a higher social status making it more appealing to the viewer.  In a study (Braun) it showed ads can make us change memories of past brand experiences affecting our future purchases making it more likely to use that brand.  This brand awareness can help with marketing for companies because the consumer passes through the hierarchy model from brand awareness which is the customer becoming aware of the product or brand; then to knowledge of the product; then liking the product; to brand loyalty as they choose a brand over the others; then desire to purchase the product and finally actually purchasing the product.  Marketers rely heavily on advertising to create brand awareness and loyalty for their own brand.  This is achieved through repetition which reinforces the information from the ad from the short term memory into the long term memory and will be used in future purchasing.  Also brands need to target a large audience to be successful and maintain awareness.   

Conclusion

In conclusion, the most important features to make an advert memorable is the emotional connection with the viewer.  This is because it maintains the engagement of the viewer.  If a positive, emotional connection is made it will more likely be memorable.  This can activate the amydala, orbiotofrontal cortices and brain stem which processes the emotion and messages it to the rest of the body which in turn will trigger brand awareness, and the beginning of the hierarchy model.  If a consumer is very loyal to the brand it can cause part of the frontal lobe to be ‘owned' by the particular brand causing the consumer to favour it over others when purchasing.  This can implicate the future as it can be beneficial for companies as less money will be wasted on products and ineffective ads as they can specifically target the individuals needs with help from neuromarketing.  Whereas music may enhance emotional connection, does not affect the viewer that much on its own.  However, a combination of all these features will lead to the most successful ad.  The music keep the viewers stimulated and enhances the emotional aspect of it.  This keeps higher engagement and increases brand awareness of the product eventually leading to brand loyalty. If the customer has a positive experience this will cause the behaviour of the potential consumer to purchase the product in the future.  This could lead to the brand having complete control of the frontal cortex and therefore the neurons will be released quicker in the brain if the product is recognised positively.  

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