Need a snapshot of your banner ad performance? Take a BannerSnap!

Ameritest is proud to introduce BannerSnap, a fully automated banner ad pre-test designed to meet the fast timelines and strict budgets of most digital campaigns.

BannerSnap measures ad performance in a controlled environment that mimics the actual consumer experience, while delivering richer and more actionable insights than monitoring online metrics can provide.

BannerSnap combines outcome-based metrics of ad breakthrough and impact with diagnostics including Ameritest’s patented Picture Sorts® to deliver insights that:

  • Predict how creative will perform in-market
  • Provide guidance for creative optimization

We are inviting digital advertisers to participate in our Spring Introduction and to try out BannerSnap for just $1,000 per ad, for up to 5 ads.

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Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 10.19.32 AM.pngTo learn more about BannerSnap, the Spring Introduction, or our other digital testing capabilities, please email Eldaa Daily at eldaa@ameritest.com or call (505) 348-5736.

Posted in Advertising Research, Ameritest, Digital, Methodology | Leave a comment

What Advertisers Learned From A Little Monkey

monkey

Imagine, if you will, a thick hamburger patty being pulled off a sizzling grill and laid on a freshly toasted bun. Cheese slowly melts on the patty while it’s topped with lettuce, tomato and secret sauce drips as the top bun is perfectly placed. Now imagine two hands reaching to grab the delicious-looking burger. You see the person open their mouth, take a bite and close their eyes to enjoy each moment of the experience. Their eyes open and the only thing left to do is smile.

Which of these moments — the images of the burger or the person eating it — do you think communicates great taste at higher levels?

The answer is both. When properly executed, both can drive taste perceptions and drive consumers to purchase yourproduct. While painting the product in its very best light is important, do not underestimate the power of showing someone eating … and enjoying it as well.

The term “bite and smile” is sometimes seen as a bit archaic and based on the golden age of advertising. In addition, the role such images play in an ad is often overlooked in the perennial debate of rational versus emotional advertising. But, research provides a good reason to continue using this traditional approach.

In the 1990s, Italian researchers accidentally discovered “mirror neurons” while conducting a research study with a Macaque monkey. In the study, the researchers placed a helmet covered with electrodes on the monkey. The intent of the research was to simply understand what neurons fired when certain actions were done. As luck would have it, the weather in Italy was quite warm and while conducting the experiment, the researcher was eating an ice cream cone in front of the little monkey. Anytime the researcher licked his delicious-looking cone, the monkey’s neurons started firing — the same neurons that were firing in the researcher each time he took a bite. While the discovery of “mirror neurons” was important in many different ways, for many different fields, those of us in advertising can benefit from the insights.

When you play a video game or watch sports, your imagination and the mental maps of your physical self interact in a virtual reality that may become indistinguishable from a real-world experience. As researchers noted with the monkey experiment, mental simulations of physical activity fire many of the same neurons in the brain as would actual movement. Imagining doing something is almost the same as actually doing it.

We can apply the same concept of the brain’s “mirror systems” to help us understand how advertising works. Mirror neurons allow us to adopt another person’s point of view when we watch them perform an action. It is also a key learning system. We learn by watching others because parallel neural activity in our brains fire the same neurons involved in performing the same action ourselves.

When we watch someone in a commercial enjoy a delicious burger, wash their hair, drive a car, or swipe their smartphone, our mirror system engages and we mentally rehearse doing the same things — we call this “virtual consumption.” When we watch someone else being touched, we can feel the touch ourselves. These mental rehearsals become “false memories” and increase the total number of memories we have stored about the experience.

So, back to our delicious hamburger example … when a consumer was provided an opportunity to “rehearse” consumption, their perception of it tasting good was enhanced and their likelihood of purchasing the burger increased. And, when the day came that the consumer purchased their very own burger hot off the grill, their feelings that the burger actually did taste good were also enhanced.

Even though the experience created through an ad may be virtual for the consumer, it still creates more memories of brand satisfaction, which is one reason why brands that advertise have an advantage over brands that do not.

Posted in Advertising Research, Ameritest, Memory, Motivation, Neuroscience, Packaged Goods, QSR Advertising, Storytelling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Father’s Day

In anticipation of Father’s Day, we recently found ourselves discussing our dads. Naturally, as a group of brand enthusiasts, we started reminiscing on our favorite dad ads.

A spot created by Whirlpool resonated with us and connected with some of our favorite dad moments. The spot titled, “Dad and Andy” highlights how being a father doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, but that trying your best is usually more than enough.

In this ad, the story focuses on the relationship between the dad and his son as the father handles the daily activities, with care and a bit of stumbling, of raising a child.

Often we see the brand play the role of the “main character” in a spot. But in this case, the brand plays a supporting role, serving as a reliable helping hand to the father.

Marketers may wonder if the ad could be as effective with the brand in a background role. Our data shows that it was. But, how? This ad is a great example of what can happen when the right emotional structure combines with the right brand placement.

“Dad & Andy” has an “emotional build” – it creates an increasing flow of positive feeling as viewers emotionally follow the father’s quest to be a good parent. This busy father encourages his son by leaving notes for him on the bathroom mirror, in his lunchbox, and in his book. The positive emotion peaks on the payoff moment when the father discovers that “Andy” has returned the encouragement and left him a note – in the freezer. The brand is revealed immediately following this moment, and the Whirlpool brand is given emotional credit for supporting the father. We feel good; Whirlpool is the cause.

A well crafted, well executed, well branded ad doesn’t have to overwhelm the audience with the brand, but the ad needs to combine the right elements in the right order.

As we push into Father’s Day weekend, take some time to celebrate dad and all he does! Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there from everyone at Ameritest!

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Happy Mother’s Day

As Mother’s Day quickly approaches we can’t help but remember the wonderful moments we’ve shared with our moms. Whether its remembering the ways she’s influenced us, helped us grow, or cared for us, we’re certain that our moms are one of a kind, and it takes a very special kind of person to be a mom. So this Mother’s Day we wanted to explore ads that harness the power of emotion while celebrating the person who’s always there for us, our mothers.

In years past we’ve seen powerful ads that have shaped the world of advertising – ads from companies like P&G, Johnson & Johnson, and American Greetings.

Our first ad explores just what it means to be a proud mom. P&G captured beautiful moments that a mom shares with her child, because before they were Olympians mom saw their potential. You don’t have to be a potential Olympian to connect to the struggle of the child or the support of the mom.
P&G’s Thank You, Mom

In this next ad, P&G displays the strength it takes to be a mom, and how they’re always there for us when we need them. We can feel, through this ad, the physical reactions of fear and uncertainty and then the calming affects of mom’s strength and support.
P&G’s Thank You, Mom – Strong

Even though being a mom can be scary, the only thing a child sees through their eyes is just how wonderful their mom is. This next ad shows mom from the eyes of the child.
J&J’s You’re Doing Ok Mom

In advertising the power of emotion plays a vital role in communicating a brand’s story. One of our favorite ads uses a creative reveal structure to show us just how much our moms do for us all of the time. And, encourages us to remember them this Mother’s Day.
American Greetings: World’s Toughest Job Link

From all of us here at Ameritest, thank you moms – for all that you do!

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Food for Thought: Talking About Taste in Advertising

According to Health World,  www.healthworldeducation.org, memories can actually affect taste. Recalling a positive memory about eating a certain food can make a present experience more enjoyable. Since advertisers build memories around their brands (what we call “branded memories”), demonstrating a product’s tastiness is an important component to any food and beverage advertising. But is it enough to just communicate good taste?

We looked at how various claims to taste were measured and found that purchase intent and consumption operate independently as they relate to taste claims. To build a strategy around taste, brand advertising may need a two-pronged approach – one to get a foot in the door and another to keep the consumer coming back for more. Does your brand need to grow by introducing new consumers or by tapping further into your current brand fans?Identify where your brand life cycle is in regards to advertising intent then, take note of the tips below.

Taste_2016_Update2

Adam Page is an Associate Research and Analytics Director at Ameritest. 
For more information, email info@ameritest.com.

 

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5 Common Advertising Mistakes To Avoid In 2016

Growth comes from reflecting on and analyzing both success and failure. As we flip the calendar to a new year, we thought it would be helpful to share the five most common advertising mistakes that we’ve seen in the CPG category in hopes that we can all avoid these potential traps in 2016.

1. Psst. I have some news.

In the CPG category, communicating news about your brand or products is a prime opportunity to differentiate, grab attention and motivate viewers to take another look. In fact, we have observed that news is strongly correlated to purchase intent. However, we often see that advertisers bury the news in tiny supers or tags on screen. When you have news to convey, shout it from the rooftops!Make sure that viewers know that there’s a reason to take another look at your brand, and clearly communicate what’s new.

2. Tread lightly with comparisons.

In this category it is very common to see comparative advertising such as a side-by-side demo of paper towels, or toilet paper. While these ads can be highly effective, some paint the competitor in such a negative light that it becomes unbelievable or worse – offensive. Take the DirecTV Rob Lowe campaign. How would you feel about being likened to Scrawny-Arms Rob Lowe? Be careful not to alienate the very audience you are trying to attract. Instead, look for ways to show your brand’s superiority without insulting competitors’ customers.

3. In a battle between puppies and logos, who wins?

A recent ad for puppy food ended with a scene that included a logo on screen, a tagline and a cute puppy that came skidding in, clumsily crashing into its food dish. If you had to guess, where do you think most people’s attention was focused — the logo, tagline or the puppy? First, our brains are hard-wired to pay attention to movement. Secondly, who can resist a cute puppy? The logo and tagline never stood a chance. The lesson? When branding is the goal of a scene, simplicity is key. Avoid cluttered branding frames and elements that could siphon attention away from your brand.

4. More isn’t always better.

Al Ries, co-author of Positioning, hit the nail on the head when he said, “It’s difficult enough to link one concept with each product. It’s almost impossible with two or three or more concepts.” Yet, we commonly see the kitchen sink approach when it comes to brand communication. Advertisers try to squeeze as much messaging as possible into an ad to get the most bang for their buck. However, this often backfires, and viewers walk away confused, or tune out the message altogether. Strive for a single-minded message. But remember that single-minded doesn’t necessarily mean simplistic. Clear messaging can also mean a connected series of ideas.

5. Advertising without brand linkage is simply entertainment.

The day after the Super Bowl is one of our favorite times of year. We all love to hear which ads people enjoyed. But, when we ask people which brand their favorite ad was created for, we’re usually met with a blank stare. That’s because a very common misstep is advertising that is highly entertaining, but does not tie back to the brand. The strongest ads that we see not only grab attention, but also leave behind a meaningful branded memory.

Avoiding these five common missteps should help you create a straighter path to your advertising success. We wish you nothing but the best in your advertising endeavors this year.

Jessica Sanchez is a Research Director at Ameritest. For more information, e-mail us at info@ameritest.com

Posted in Advertising Research, Attention, Brand Awareness, Memory, Motivation, Packaged Goods | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The ‘Second Battleground’ To Drive Brand Growth

Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it’s about deliberately choosing to be different. Michael Porter

Just about every brand marketer talks about winning the battle at shelf. But there is another battleground that is too often ignored. Many brands may be much better served by focusing more on winning what I refer to as “the second battleground,” that is driving frequency of use to shorten the brand’s purchase cycle.

This second battle occurs every day in the home or purse or car. People choose whether they want to use the product or not. Which frozen meal will I make? Should I clean the bathroom? Will I be consistent about taking my fish oil? Which breath freshener will I use?

What happens when a consumer buys a product, but then never uses it? It may just be forgotten, relegated to the back of the pantry or it ceases to be an important part of the consumer’s life. Choices that happen every day away from the retailer can have a dramatic effect on brand sales by shortening or extending the brand purchase cycle.

According to research done by GrowthSpeed Partners, focusing on driving frequency of use can lead to significant sales gains: by shortening the overall purchase cycle from 77 to 72 days brands can see a usage lift of 6% or more.

Too many marketers either assume that a good piece of brand communication (an ad, their packaging etc.) can do both: drive sales at shelf and usage at home, or they don’t really think about the second war at all. The truth is, there is no perfect formula for doing both. However, there are scarcely studied approaches to each goal—specifically in advertising.

If we look at how the brain controls purchase behavior, its clear that it is memory that influences purchase behavior—that is, memory created by past brand experiences, including advertising. Therefore, triggering the right memories becomes crucial.

A simplified way to do this is to identify which memory system of the brain plays the biggest role in “storing” memories that help the decision-making process of purchasing the product in the first place vs. using it more frequently post purchase.

Triggering Product Trial

The semantic memory system stores conceptual, rational news/ideas such as pricing information, reasons to believe around new flavors, colors, statistics, etc. We can call this the conceptual memory system. This is the memory system to target with the goal of driving product trial. This ad from Kellogg Nutri-Grain should be full of all of the factual information about the product to drive that first purchase.

Triggering Usage Frequency

The procedural memory system is grounded by the five senses. Advertising that showcases taste, smell, the way the product feels, the way the packaging sounds when opening it, the crunch of a chip, even a place the brand lives, reminds and motivates consumers to keep using the product. Nestlé KitKat has been specifically speaking to this memory system since 1937 with its “break” advertising strategy, commonly known as physicalmemories.

While any given ad can obviously deposit memories in both memory systems, the emphasis of each approach is best when customized by business objective: trial or usage frequency.

The Memory System That Triggers Both

The third memory system, the episodic, should play a strong role regardless of objective. This is the social memory system because it taps into emotion to store autobiographical events that have to do with relationships—both with others as well as the relationship with the self. Marketing techniques like word-of-mouth, testimonials, product reviews and the use of social media are successful because of their interaction with the social memory system. The still-memorable “I’m a Mac” ad campaign is a great example of tapping into the social memory system based on stereotypes. This campaign essentially served two purposes: 1) To get PC users to switch to Apple (trial); and 2) To get Apple users to love the brand even more (frequency).

If you are searching for a way to grow your brand, there may be a battle that you can start winning right away – by focusing on driving brand usage and shortening the purchase cycle. It is a strategic choice you may want to consider.

email info@ameritest.com for more information.

Posted in Advertising Research, Memory, Methodology, Motivation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment