Ads are more memorable on premium sites


Ads that are served alongside premium content elicit stronger engagement and long-term memory encoding than ads viewed on social media, according to a recent neurological study.

The research was conducted by neuroscience experts Neuro-Insight on behalf of the Association for Online Publishing (AOP) and Newsworks, the marketing body for national newspapers.

It was based on responses from 139 participants, aged 18 to 60, who freely browsed different websites and were each exposed to the same test ad in both a premium editorial context and a social media context.

Participants’ brain responses were then individually measured and their behaviour recorded using a video camera, enabling Neuro-Insight to determine brain response at any one point in time.

An important element of the tests was to examine how the two halves of the brain responded to the same ads viewed on different platforms – the left brain being associated with detail and language, while the right brain is concerned more with emotional processing.

According to the results, Neuro-Insight found that left brain memory encoding was 42% stronger when participants viewed ads on premium editorial sites compared with those viewed on social media sites. Ads on premium sites also generated a 9% stronger response in right brain memory encoding.

In addition, ads seen in a premium context were viewed for longer (+17%) and created 29% higher engagement (personal relevance) than ads on social media, such as Facebook and YouTube.

However, social media was found to be associated with high levels of immediate attention, even if it was less likely to be converted into long-term brand memories.

Commenting on the research, Newsworks’ CEO Vanessa Clifford said: “We already knew that context was important for digital ad performance – now we know that it is because the brain processes ads differently depending on where they are encountered.

“It’s not enough to find the right audience, people need to see ads in an environment that is conducive to memory encoding if we are to build brands longer term and maximise effectiveness.”

Sourced from AOP, Newsworks; additional content by WARC staff

This article first appeared in

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