Viewer heart rate could be a reliable predictor of TV ad performance

New Ideas in MarketingEssential news for marketers, summarised by YouGov
January 24, 2019, 4:41 PM UTC

TV ads must capture attention to generate sales and biometrics could help measure it.

This study took 100 past ads with known sales impacts and measured viewer attention in a variety of ways to try to uncover which measures are reliable for predicting the performance of new ads. Specifically, it used 3 biometric measures – eye tracking, skin conductance and heart rate – and recorded the effects of different creative elements from the ad slots. The creative tactics covered included voiceovers, shots of branded packaging and the use of animals.

The results are complicated. The research discusses 3 distinct levels of attention, and the impact of different ad elements were found to be best captured by different attention measures. Some tactics, like packaging shots, were even found to have negative impacts on attention, and translated into reductions in brand recall and sentiment towards an ad.

Overall though, the findings are a step towards a more sophisticated and complete “measurement toolbox” for testing TV creative and one conclusion is that multiple attention metrics are needed to fully understand the likely impact of an ad. The authors suggest that heart rate is the most reliable and widely applicable measure of market performance, and point out that measuring it can be done cheaply and at scale through webcam technology.

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