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New Rules for Advertising Excellence in the Social Media and Online Video World

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By: Cait Wilson, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Utah 

Wayne Huang sets the stage by describing how advertising used to look; people watched commercials on television. The rules for advertising have changed since then. Today, millennials constantly have their heads down looking at content on their devices.

Even though billions are spent on online video advertising, advertisers still struggle with creating ads for in-feed social platforms. Since there has been a transition from traditional media channels to online platforms, new ways of studying advertising are required. Twitter partnered with EyeSee Research and helped advertisers understand their ads using three key behavioral research methods that measure subconscious thinking: eye tracking, facial coding, and virtual shopping.

Eye Tracking

The eye tracking experiments had consumers put on glasses and look at their online feed. The glasses tracked where consumers looked on their screen and for how long. On average, consumers look at ads for a very short amount of time on their social feed, 1.7 seconds. Ads that are considered “good” are looked at for about a full second longer than a bad ad. When people are reading articles on Twitter, they hardly ever look at banner ads. 

Facial Coding

To identify if an ad evoked emotion in consumers, facial coding was also used. A webcam records an individual’s face as they scroll through their online feed to monitor emotion exhibited through facial expressions. Twitter used the facial expressions to identify when an individual had an emotional reaction to an ad.  

Virtual Shopping

A virtual shopping experiment is a 2D simulated shopping experience that is used to gain insight on purchasing intent. The consumer is placed in front of a virtual store shelf and mimics what they would purchase. They can sift through the products on the shelf and put items they would like to buy in their cart. Virtual shopping correlates with sales in actual stores.

Key Takeaways

  • Maximum branding on online videos do better. When you are tweeting online videos, it’s best to add a hashtag with your brand name and place a logo on your video.
  • Online videos that are 4 seconds perform best compared to 6, 15, and 30 second ads. Shorter 4 second videos result in 51% message association and 47% ad recall. However, only 4% of videos are currently 6 seconds or shorter, so start cutting down your longer online video ads.
  • Contextual targeting matters. Place your ad amongst related content on social feeds.For example, a Gatorade ad performed better when placed at the center of sports content than unrelated content.
  • Holiday ads perform better when certain creative elements are included. Ads should display products up front compared to non-product focused ads. People enjoy ads that include humans compared to non-humans. People prefer seeing images of couples giving gifts to each other over the holidays compared to families (families tend to stress people out). Finally, there was no difference on whether the ad included free shipping or no free shipping.

By using behavioral research methods that measure subconscious thinking, Twitter offered their advertisers a variety of useful insights based on their findings. These results also offer an example of methods other market researchers can use to measure subconscious thinking and gives suggestions to marketers when developing ads for in-feed social platforms.

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