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Brain Scans Show the Power of Addressable TV Ads

Addressable TV lets marketers deliver different video ads to different households that are watching the same program, based on consumers’ specific interests, habits and demographics. The results of this relatively new form of television advertising are powerful. Recent market calculations show that advertisers spent roughly $2.14 billion on addressable TV ads in 2020, while the Deloitte Global report, “2022 TMT Predictions,” estimated that this form of targeted marketing would generate $7.5 billion in global ad spending last year. “While addressable has been around for 10 years, it’s still in its early stages, and because of that, many providers are using different criteria and guidelines to deploy it,” said Matt Van Houten, senior VP of product, operations and business development at DirecTV Advertising.

Now, new research is looking at the science of what happens inside people’s brains as they watch addressable TV ads. CampaignUK teamed with London-based media company Finecast, and together they commissioned scientists from the University College London to conduct research, which included MRI scans of participants’ brains while they viewed both addressable and traditional television spots. Across the board, the former category triggered greater neurological activity in areas related to attention, emotion, reward, and memory.

Attention: Remarkably, research showed that viewers pay 20% more active attention to ads specifically targeted for their eyes than to those normally seen on linear TV.

Emotion: When studying activity in the amygdala, the almond-shaped part of the brain in charge of regulating feelings, scientists found that addressable ads packed a deeper emotional punch. “For people who we knew were interested in pets, we saw a strong uplift in brain activity when they were presented with an ad with a dog wagging its tail, for example,” said Samantha Lister, head of marketing science at Finecast.

Reward: Participants also felt rewarded when they saw spots related to their areas of interest. “The feeling of reward with addressable ads was very close to the feeling people get when watching a TV show, but there’s a significant drop-off with non-addressable content,” said Lister.

Memory: Viewers’ ability to correctly remember targeted ads was 10% higher compared to recall of non-addressable commercials. That spells big news for brands striving to break through the noise and embed themselves in consumers’ long-term memories. “The biggest takeaway for me is how strong the results were with memory, how that relates to mental availability, and making your brand familiar, so you’ve got the best chance of securing a purchase,” said Mike Shaw, Roku’s director of international ad sales.

Addressable ads have the power to build awareness, boost brand appeal and prompt purchase intent, delivering meaningful results for advertisers, thanks to the specific ways these video spots interact with consumers’ minds and hearts. “The outcomes of the study were impressive and have significant implications for the media industry,” said Harry Harcus, UK managing director at Finecast. “They shed light on why addressable TV campaigns continually achieve substantial results for clients, and they provide further evidence that these campaigns deliver a strategic advantage to brands who include this technology in their budgets.”

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