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Key factors that brands must consider to keep audience engaged

Today, as consumers are constantly bombarded with video advertisement, it is crucial for brands, marketers and media agencies to cut through the noise and achieve a meaningful engagement with consumers. So if you are aiming at an optimal brand exposure, reducing consumers’ commercial avoidance is one of the most crucial objectives you should keep in mind.

In this article, based on a scientific study conducted by Harvard Business School professor and brand consultant Thales Teixeira, together with researchers from University of Maryland, and Tilburg University, we will help you understand the determinants of commercial avoidance and show you how to maximize viewers’ attention by optimizing your creative content.

Only got two minutes? Here’s the take away version:

  1. Commercial avoidance (when consumers skip or stop watching your ad) imposes a negative impact on your advertising effectiveness.

  2. Whether consumers would keep watching your video is influenced by:

  3. Branding activities (how name, logo, packshots, etc. are presented in your ads);

  4. Whether your viewers are concentrated or not.

  5. Pulsing strategy appears to be beneficial for reducing commercial avoidance.

  6. As we have seen in Feelin’s Ad Battle #3 Renault Clio vs Fiat 500, thanks to its pulsing strategy, Renault’s ad achieved a significantly higher attentional score than the other contestant Fiat, as measured by our tools.

Interested in finding out more about improving audience engagement? Keep reading!

Overview of the Study

Focus of the research is to examine how branding activities (how brand identity symbols such as name, logo, typeface, trademark or packshot are presented) in video advertising and consumers’ attention influence their avoidance decision during the spot.

The study formalizes a dynamic probit model and applies Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods for estimation. Data collection for commercial avoidance consists of eye-tracking data on 31 commercials for nearly 2,000 participants (aged 20 to 62, 48% male, 52% female). The research also proposes metrics of consumers’ attention dispersion based on eye-tracking data to show how these can systematically predict consumers’ avoidance decision. Based on model estimations, brand pulsing (integrating repeated brief brand insertions in the ad) is presented by the researchers as an efficient method to reduce commercial avoidance. Its benefits and efficiency are also tested based on a controlled lab experiment in the study.

Key Findings

  1. Branding activities have significant effects on consumers’ moment-to-moment decision to continue or stop watching the commercial. Inserting brands for sustained periods, particularly in the center of the screen, makes it more likely that consumers stop watching the commercial.

  2. With pulsing strategy (by showing brand more frequently and for a shorter period of time throughout the narratives of the commercial, rather than longer exposure at the beginning or end), commercial avoidance rates were reduced both in a simulated optimization and in a lab experiment by about 8% and 10% respectively.

  3. Consumers’ attention dispersion strongly predicts the probability that consumers stop watching the commercial. The more commercials are able to concentrate consumers’ visual attention, the lower the probability of commercial avoidance would be.

  4. Consumers’ visual concentration can be measured based on the location of consumers’ eye fixations (that’s one of the many things we do at Feelin). As illustrated below, when the variances in these locations decrease (that is, when viewers are more concentrated), it is less likely that the viewers stop watching. Also, the closer the consumer’s eye fixation is to the center of other consumers’ eye fixations, the lower the likelihood of commercial avoidance is.

Ok, enough with theories… What if you can actually know whether the viewers are focused or not while watching your ads?

By analyzing the location of viewers’ eye fixations while watching videos, we provide you a score that measures the attentional power of your ad. Your video’s attentional score is not only an accurate reflection of audience’s visual concentration, but also allows you to compare your production with other videos that address similar products or services.

For example…

As we have seen in Ad Battle #3 Renault Clio vs Fiat 500, thanks to its pulsing strategy, Renault’s ad achieved a significantly higher attentional score than the other contestant Fiat: Renault’s ad achieved a general attentional score of 60% and 78% with their target audience, whereas its contestant Fiat only achieved an average attention score of 60% and 65% with their target audience.

Want to find out your video’s attentional power? Ask FEELIN to help you measure viewers’ visual concentration and win the battle for attention!


Teixeira, Wedel, and Pieters: Moment-to-Moment Optimal Brandings in TV Commercials. Marketing Science 29(5), pp. 783-804, @2010 INFORMS.

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