What does impact look like? Declarative and physiological signatures of successful commercials

Pedro Chaves | November 10, 2017
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After the last post from our CEO, it’s time for you to meet another (and not the last of us either) Pedro from MindProber: Pedro Chaves, Head of Research.

Just last week we presented at the AMAI IDEAS event that took place in the City of Mexico, during the 25th and 26th. After a quick fight with the wonderful jetlag, it was our turn to present our most recent case-study during the Disruptive Ideas panel, on the morning of the 25th. And we didn’t do it alone.

Rewinding a couple of months to Atlanta, Alejandro Garnica (Executive VP) from AMAI (Mexican Association of Market and Opinion Research Agencies) saw us winning the Insight Innovation Competition and thought we would be a great addition to the event he was putting together with the biggest agencies in Mexico, and challenged us to present a small case-study of our technology use for ad testing. And so we did.

Partnering up with Netquest and TV Azteca, we got access to a set of commercials which had a different social impact, and we were asked to run a small study in Portugal just to showcase what we can offer brands trying to increase the impact and effectiveness of their advertisements.

Based on those ideas, we took it to the lab and collected data with a typical MindProber copy testing scenario: participants were exposed to a set of ad reels, followed by a memory impact questionnaire (about a random ad within those). Then they saw the target ad again and answered classical post-visualization questionnaires to assess attitudes towards the ad and the brand. During all of the visualizations, we collected biometrics (GSR and HR signals) and second-to-second declarative responses (“likes” and “dislikes”).

The results were really interesting: overall emotional arousal was highly predictive of ad recall (i.e.,  the ads which elicited a higher emotional reaction were better remembered by the participants) and in turn, the ads which were better recalled had higher scores across all attitude questionnaires.

Now the data itself is extremely interesting and of particular value to the study of ad effectiveness. But both results are landmarks of psychophysiological research and hence should be expected. In fact, already in 1959 Easterbrook suggested that a state of increased emotional arousal would lead to a narrowing of attention to the perceived stimulus which would increase its retention in memory. These results have been repeatedly replicated and elegantly expanded upon, and the current psychological models point towards a crucial role of emotional arousal in facilitating the encoding of central information of the stimulus – although an opposite effect seems to happen to peripheral information.


Furthermore, we were also able to show how for those ads that the participants recalled the most, the scores on the classical post-visualization surveys (i.e., attitude towards the brand) were much higher.
Can you guess which ads had the best social impact, as measured by TV Azteca? Yes, that’s correct, the ones with better performance in our testing scenario. And the worst? Yes, correct as well!
If you would like to know more about which metrics we have used to characterize emotional arousal and why we think you should care about that, stick around for the next post about our IIeX Behavior presentation in Chicago.

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Pedro Chaves
Pedro Chaves


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