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Avoiding clutter more important than screen size in ad recall

September 17th, 2012

networked TV

In today’s world of multiple devices of multiple sizes, does screen size affect ad recall?

While the size of a video screen drives more excitement, variables such as ad clutter, creative content, and context had a much stronger influence on ad recall by viewers, according to the industry’s first ad effectiveness study measuring emotional response, attention, and self-reported unaided recall by users across all four screens — connected TV, linear TV, PCs, and smartphones by YuMe.

With consumer ownership of video-playing devices nearly doubling from 2000 to 2012 (1.97 devices per person in 2000, versus 3.96 per person in 2012)1, advertisers are faced with more platform choices for effectively reaching their audience. As such, media planners are increasingly wondering: are all screens created equal?

To determine whether screen size matters, a controlled experiment that held video and ad content constant was set up at the IPG Media Lab in San Francisco. The study used self-reported surveys, observed video and ad exposure, and the latest eye-tracking and bio-feedback tools to assess the attention, excitement, and ad recall of 147 consumers.

Are All Screens Created Equal?
Although screen size is much hyped, the study shows that screen size did not play a significant role in ad effectiveness. Instead, three other controllable variables, identified by YuMe as the “Three C’s,” proved much more important:

1. Clutter — TV proved effective at garnering attention and eliciting emotion, but fell short on ad breakthrough, due to clutter. Ad clutter appears to undermine the ad effectiveness of linear TV (27 percent successful unaided recall), compared to successful unaided recall with less ad time for connected TV (38 percent), mobile (35 percent) and PC (43 percent).
2. Creative — Ad effectiveness varied greatly by the creativity of the ad.
3. Context — The most engaging content attracted the most attention; and “lean-back” environments with less distraction, such as at home in bed, enhance viewer attentiveness to ads. Research shows that the couch is now the ultimate multi-screen environment, while the bed represents the ultimate single-screen environment.

Clear Implications for Media Buyers and Planners:

1) Clutter free environments, regardless of screen size, are a good value
2) Advertisers without media budgets for high gross rating point (GRP) TV campaigns should consider moving to screens with less ad clutter to ensure campaign breakthrough
3) Creative testing is strongly recommended whenever possible — and digital video is a great platform for testing different ad creatives
4) Since prime-time for linear and connected TV is also the peak time for second-screen usage, consider buying placements across devices during this day part when planning for duplication

For more on the results of this study and the related video, please visit:

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