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MMA’s Neuroscience Cognition Research assesses duration at which mobile ads can be recognised and processed

The report released at Kyoorius Melt, Mumbai, provides directives to advertisers on how to leverage specific visual elements to capture the emotional brain’s attention and the need to contrast ad complexity to the ad’s contextual environment

The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) has released the Neuroscience Cognition Research, a report that establishes that the human brain needs 400 milliseconds (or 4/10th of a second or less than ½ second) to engage with mobile advertising and trigger an imprint—positive or negative. This research has been done to test and assess the duration at which advertising on mobile platforms can be recognised and processed cognitively.

The MMA is a global non-profit trade mobile marketing association that comprises over 800-member companies from nearly 50 countries around the world.

The cognition research report is an eye-opener for mobile marketers in many ways. Ever since videos have become the preferred mode of marketing a product, there has been a deluge of ads. On the flip side, owing to excessive screen time, the viewer’s attention spans have been reducing. The findings of this report will provide answers as to why marketers are often befuddled about the lack of response while consumers wrestle with too many diversions. The report provides directives to advertisers on how to leverage specific visual elements to capture the emotional brain’s attention and the need to contrast ad complexity to the ad’s contextual environment.

Speaking at the launch of the research at Kyoorius Melt in Mumbai, Rohit Dadwal, Managing Director, MMA, Asia Pacific, said, “The challenge of attention in advertising is not new. MMA has now brought in neuroscience to understand the human brain’s reaction to advertising because it pushes the boundaries of what eye tracking studies allowed. MMA is committed to walking the path of science in marketing for brands. This report will demonstrate to marketers that the need of the hour is to focus on developing the right creative content given that human attention is a scarce commodity.”

Here are some highlights on the Cognition Research study:

  • Cognitive process of advertising is fast: The human brain needs less than ½ second to engage with mobile advertising and trigger a reaction, positive or negative. More than 67% of ads tested were already seen and cognitively recognised at 0.4 seconds.
  • Time is relative: Ads in a mobile feed environment get attention faster and trigger stronger cognition, compared to desktop.
  • It took 2-3 seconds for two-thirds of desktop ads to be seen and cognitively recognised in comparison to 0.4 seconds for mobile.
  • Our brain is faster on branding: Cognitive process is accelerated for known brands. Although all ads have the same likelihood of being seen, “well-known” brands stimulate a much faster cognitive and emotional processing given the same time.
  • Video better engages the emotional brain: While static and video ads have the same likelihood of being seen, video ads are twice likely to create emotional response than static in faster exposure speeds (less than 0.7 seconds).
  • Weak ads work fast and fail even faster: Weak ads are processed faster and create negative emotional responses in less than a second.

Moneka Khurana, Country Manager, MMA India, said, "Up until now, there were no conclusive answers or meaningful guidance for marketers in terms of how to better plan for the dynamic mobile environment. MMA’s Cognition Research establishes the relationship between exposure time of ads and consumer attention, with a focus on optimising their creative for the needs of this new environment. This and similar such outcomes from the report will help the marketers to better invest their marketing dollars to achieve maximum impact.”

This cognition research is the most recent study aligned to MMA’s rigorous and intensive research agenda in the areas of marketing measurement, organisation design, creative innovation, emerging technologies and more. Using neuroscience to really understand the human brain’s reaction to advertising (actual cognitive process) is a relatively new technique applied to advertising that pushes our knowledge boundaries beyond what previous eye tracking studies allowed. This study is focused on the “opportunity to see” both in mobile and desktop.

Prasun Basu, President, Nielsen, South Asia, said, “While advertisers have always known that there is a linear relationship of time with attention and impact of an ad, to discover that according to science, that length of time is less than half a second, is surely going to present a challenge to the creative and media teams. It is now time for marketers to come up with the First Second Strategy for mobile marketing.  It will be very interesting to see how they tackle the findings of this study and use the key takeaways to as the basis of their revised strategies.”

MMA conducted the Cognition Neuroscience Research project in collaboration with The Advertising Research Foundation (The ARF), a trade group focused on research on advertising, media and marketing, and Neurons Inc., an applied neuroscience research company, set out to understand how consumers process information in a mobile environment.

MMA is a part of the learning pillar specific to mobile and also the strategic partner running the mobile track on May 30 at Kyoorius Melt being held at NSCI, Mumbai. MMA’s tracks focus on educating the industry on areas in mobile, which are seen as disruptive and potent as well as have marketer challenges associated with it. The key topics revolve around OTT, video advertising, ad fraud, voice marketing besides MMA’s Cognition Research Report.

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