The keys to improving ad recall

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How does memory work? It's a question that science still hasn't finished exploring - and one that interests advertisers more than ever, at a time when brands are increasingly seeking to stay top-of-mind with their consumers.

While the answer to this question cannot be given outright in a short article, it can be applied to the world of digital advertising. The key? Rely not only on human cognitive patterns and reflexes, but also on innovative advertising technologies.

Read on to find out more about our experts' advice for boosting the ad recall of your campaigns.

The prerequisite: Grabbing attention

To be remembered, your advertising campaigns must first be seen - which makes sense. But in a world where the attention economy is getting more and more ruthless, your campaigns need to stand out quickly in order to attract attention

Indeed, your content, whether organic or paid, is in constant competition with all the other content on the platform where it is distributed. So you need to ask yourself what you need to do to make users spend time on your content rather than another.

To do this, consider the following:

  • Set up the right targeting. To do so, it's crucial that you know your target audience inside out. The more information you have about them, the more you can exploit all the targeting options available on each channel to refine your core audience as much as possible.
  • Choose the right advertising placement. For example, for a DOOH campaign, you can choose the type of screen on which to project your campaign: in a shopping mall, in a busy area, near local shops…
  • Pay particular attention to the first three seconds of a video, or more generally to your creative design. It should catch the eye (or even the scroll) of your target audiences. For example, in display advertising, you can choose to set up animations that are triggered on mouse-over or click. Another example: in Social Media video advertising, think about deploying a "scroll stopper" - this is a striking element that will make the user want to stop and look at your content, such as an influencer who directly appeals to the audience, or a "shock" figure.

7 keys to boosting ad recall

Once your advertising message has captured the attention of your audience, it's time to discover the secrets of advertising recall.

1. Choose the media with the highest beta

Are you familiar with the concept of memorization beta? It was developed in the 1980s, and has since been regularly recalculated by ad recall specialists. Quite simply, it's the rate of recall on first viewing, calculated across all advertising media.

To calculate this metric, specialists compare the average recall score measured on a population that has not been exposed to an advertising campaign, with that measured on an exposed population. The beta is calculated from the answers of each sample - answers obtained via an advertising memory questionnaire distributed the day after exposure.

Here's what you need to remember about the beta concept: the media you choose can have a more or less high beta. Online video, for example, has a fairly high beta: 5.7% in 2018 according to Dentsu Aegis Network, but as high as 18% for campaigns with the most creative messages). On the contrary, the beta for OOH display only goes up to 4,3%. 

If you have set up an awareness or branding goal for your campaign, remember to find out about the beta of the different types of advertising you're considering before deploying your budget there!

2. Play with emotion

Emotion is the key to long-lasting ad recall - especially positive emotions, which activate the reward circuit in the brains of targeted audiences.  

This has been demonstrated in a number of studies, including one conducted by AOL and iligo in 2017, using a webcam-based facial recognition device. The conclusion of this study was clear: the stronger the emotion generated, the higher the memorization of the message.

To play with emotion, we advise you to :

  • Use humans to embody your brand - and if possible influencers or celebrities to grab the audience's attention in the first place. You can also use User Generated Content, i.e. testimonials from satisfied customers who spontaneously promote your products or services. This technique allows you to create immediate connivance and projection with the audience.
  • Use storytelling to create a real narrative. This art of telling a story, even in a few seconds or on static formats, allows you to stimulate the same areas of the brain as a good film - a type of content that audiences won't soon forget!

3. Tailor your campaign to consumer habits

You want your advertising campaign to be remembered, yes - but for the right reasons, and not because of a poor user experience. To achieve this, you need to be fully aware of your audience's content consumption habits, and adapt to them.

For example, be sure to : 

  • Allow your videos to be viewed without sound on social media.
  • Adopt a vertical format, to occupy maximum space on a smartphone screen.
  • Deploy non-intrusive advertising. For example, avoid "non-skippable" ads, which are more likely to be viewed, but not remembered.

4. Contextualize your media

Today, there are a wide variety of channels and formats available for your advertising messages. However, not all distribution contexts are conducive to effective memorization of your advertising content.

The idea is simple: you need to find an environment that is favorable to ad recall, with a long exposure time, and that gives meaning to the ad. For example, for a display campaign, be sure to define whitelists of sites on which your ad will make sense, as they present an affinity in terms of targeting or theme.

5. Work on the repetition of your campaign

For advertising campaigns that are truly memorable, be sure to adopt an omnichannel strategy, adapting to the different channels and formats selected each time. The idea is to expose your target audience to your ad several times, to encourage recall.

But be careful to establish maximum capping, to avoid excessive advertising pressure that would damage your brand image - but also your performance! According to a 2020 Facebook study, the optimal frequency of repetition is between 5 and 6 impressions. Beyond that, performance improvement is almost non-existent. All the more reason to work hard on your repetition, while taking care of your advertising budget.

6. Highlight your brand quickly

Also remember to quickly highlight your brand in your ad creation, especially in the first few seconds of a video ad. This allows your audience to quickly identify your brand, and stay top-of-mind thereafter.

7. Customize your advertising

What better way to grab your audience's attention and leave a lasting impression than to involve them individually in your advertising? Dynamic Creative Optimization, or DCO, makes it possible.

This technology enables you to automatically adapt the content of your display ad to the profile of your target audience. For example, it's possible to automatically display products that the user has already consulted on your e-commerce site in a display banner.

How do you measure ad recall?

Traditionally, to measure ad recall, marketers conduct advertising pre-tests, in which the message is presented to a sample of the target audience and perception of the message and its effects are measured. But this method is generally expensive, and not suitable for agile campaigns that need to be set up quickly.

In digital advertising, publishers are increasingly introducing features to measure recall. This is the case with Brand Lift Surveys on YouTube and Snapchat. The idea behind these polls is to directly ask the question of recall to targets who have viewed the ads.

And recently, a new additional indicator has appeared to measure memorization potential: attention metrics. To find out more, read our article on attention metrics.

Need help making your digital ads even more memorable? Contact a Gamned! expert today, and let's talk about your advertising goals.

“At a time when brands have taken full advantage of the various digital advertising channels at their disposal, the challenge is no longer simply to make your ads visible: they must also be memorable, and leave a long-lasting impression on the minds of your audiences. For this, cognitive science is a valuable ally: it tells you what role emotions, brand personification and repetition of advertising messages should play.” Nicolas Carbonel, Client Partner and Team Leader at Gamned!


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