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BizReport : Advertising : January 22, 2013

Video ads: Research reveals the ingredients for an ad viewers want to watch

New experimental research from Harvard Business School Assistant Professor Thales S. Teixeira could turn online video ad creative on its head. It found that, in a world where ads can usually be skipped or ignored, the traditional surprise, or punch-line ending, isn't getting the most 'attention' bang for the buck.

by Helen Leggatt

Just because an online video ad is displayed on a viewer's computer screen doesn't mean it is actually viewed. Assistant Professor Teixeria's recent experiments have shown that, in order to capture and keep a viewer's attention to video ads, the traditional format of delivering a surprise or punch-line at the end needs to be turned on its head.

Why? Because ad-skipping audiences may not even get to the end of an ad, either skipping it or tuning-out and involving themselves in other activities online.

What Teixeria's facial and eye-tracking experiments revealed is that the most effective way to capture attention in a video ad is to evoke surprise first and foremost. Evoking joy was then the most effective way to retaining a viewer's attention.

"The findings showed that advertisers should use a quick element of surprise at the beginning of an ad, followed by a longer period of joy, in order to get the most 'attention' bang for the buck," says Teixeira.

The findings will be published in an upcoming article (.pdf) in the Journal of Marketing Research, "Emotion-Induced Engagement in Internet Video Ads," coauthored by Teixeira and fellow researchers Michel Wedel of the University of Maryland and Rik Pieters of Tilburg University.

Tags: ad creative, advertising, online advertising trends, online video, video ads

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