Consumer Insights on Advertising

I recently interviewed with NeuroFocus. As a student of consumer insights, I am fascinated with the findings of NeuroFocus in “The Buying Brain” by Dr. A.K. Pradeep. I will be sharing those key findings in this and other posts.

Based on the findings of NeuroFocus, the keys to effective advertising are attention, emotion and memory. Their technology does this for every second of a commercial or time spent viewing a print ad or website.

Following are the key findings:

  • Effectiveness of the ad in the first five seconds helps determine whether the ad runs the risk of viewer flight or tune out.
  • Likewise, the way the spot ends is important because brand logos and product messaging are near the end and if the ending is weak there is less memorability of the logos, taglines and value propositions.
  • Highly effective ads tend to wear out more quickly — people “get it” and are ready for something new.
  • Highly effective ads lend themselves to be spread virally via the internet so if you have a highly effective ad, put it on You Tube.
  • Eight to 10-second versions of effective ads can still tell a cogent and complete story on alternative video platforms.
  • Effective ads don’t just tell a story, the imagery and the story actually stimulate the areas of the brain corresponding to the core features of the product being enjoyed — this is especially valuable for food and beverage advertisers.
  • Viewers minds will immediately focus on elements that are in motion in commercials.
  • We are programmed to pay the highest attention to visual stimuli; as such, communicate the most critical information in TV advertising through visual means, do not rely on voiceover alone.
  • We are neurologically designed to prefer clockwise motion so have the motion of your commercial flowing accordingly.
  • We are also drawn to the human face so include human faces when you can.
  • Motion in the periphery is favorable.
  • Motion from the periphery to the center of the screen is superior than motion from the center out to the periphery.
  • The brain craves novelty so emphasize what’s novel for fulfill the brain’s desire to discover new things.  Audio and visual “pop outs: are one application of the novelty principle.
  • Error will also help your ad stand out as does ambiguity.  The Mona Lisa’s ambiguity is something that makes it a very compelling visual.  Cosmetics marketers feature models with ambiguous expressions to captures the viewer’s attention.
  • While the brain likes a good mystery, it should be solvable in a few seconds so you don’t make it work too hard.
  • The environment in which an ad is viewed (e.g., television show of magazine articles) have a significant influence on viewer engagement.  The more engaged the viewer is with the content surrounding the ad, the more engaged they will be with the ad.
  • In animation, make sure the audio and video are in sync.  If they are out of sync, the brain will have “mismatch negativity” which will make it difficult to get your message across.
  • Place logos and symbols in the central or slightly left visual field.
  • Avoid more than two logos or symbols overall.
  • In print and on websites, put images on the left and semantics on the right, use human images to engage viewers, create layouts with a clockwise visual exploration pattern, limit yourself to two or three major visual elements.

Let me know if you find this useful in developing your next creative campaign or website.


About Chipotle for Life

An integrated marketing professional who generates insights from analytics to increase revenue. My blog for marketing now resides at After getting requests from a number of people about my eating and exercise routine, I've decided to begin sharing about my healthy obsession with Chipotle and exercise.
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