Attention is a currency that’s being paid less and less in the digital space. According to research from Amplified Intelligence, 85% of digital ads do not pass the 2.5-second attention-memory threshold. Getting beyond this threshold is a must for building mental availability. 

With most people abandoning ads before they conclude, how can brands ensure their digital advertising will make an impact? The key is investing in brand-building advertising in an age and space where performance-based advertising is often preferred.

As Orlando Wood writes in his IPA best seller Look out, "Brand-building advertising will – in this age of digital activation and reduced physical and mental availability, become more important, not less.” Many of today’s direct-to-consumer brands are fully digital, without storefronts where people can discover and purchase their products and services. They often invest heavily in digital advertising and influencer partnerships to overcome this. However, the quality of their creative greatly impacts whether these brands will grow.  

Wood’s research finds that left-brained ads focussing on abstract product close-ups, repetitive rhythmic music, voiceovers, words on the screen and adjectives used as nouns (e.g., “Experience amazing,”) are less effective at creating salience and trust. Meanwhile, right-brained ads with characters, distinctive assets, a clear sense of place, melodic music and betweenness among characters capture broad-beam attention, thus supporting memorability and long-term brand building.

Consider these tips for success:

·       Brand early – Draw attention to the brand as early as possible, ideally through discreet or within scene (on pack) branding so you don’t miss an opportunity before viewers continue scrolling. 

·       Leverage Fluent Devices – Some brands avoid featuring their recurring characters so content doesn’t look like an ad. But using these assets (e.g., the Geicko gecko) enhances brand recognition.  

·       Use left-brain features sparingly – If you do choose to use these, couple it with tight targeting to reach the right people. 

·       Get inspired by the past – Moto e azione is a technique used by Italian master painters 400 years ago – they’d highlight the emotional turning point in a story, where dramatic expressions and gestures convey inner insight and understanding. Advertisers can also leverage it. This attention to drama, emotion and critical moments helps work achieve the maximum impact and attention. 

·       Pre-test creative – This will help you understand viewers’ emotional response and where engagement drops off. 

There are always exceptions to the rule – Warby Parker, Away and Casper began online and then opened storefronts. Yet many brands will exist entirely online and won’t invest in physical footprints. If they want to also exist in the minds of consumers, they’ll need to excel at brand-building advertising. Perfecting the quality of creative – incorporating the right features (for the right brain) – can help brands get beyond the 2.5-second attention-memory threshold. 

Predict and improve the commercial impact of your creative. System1’s Test Your Ad platform uses emotion measurement to understand how viewers feel about TV, digital, outdoor, print and audio advertising.