Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words?

Happy New Year! Did you miss us? This week, I thought we would continue our discussion on Attention (For those of you who missed it, look back to the “Getting’ Back to Basics – Let’s Talk Attention” blog post from December 3rd).

Knowing how Ameritest generates an Attention score is just one piece of the puzzle. You see, what if an ad gets great Attention or even suffers from poor Attention? A double-digit number would probably do very little to help a creative or ad manager going forward. It is often much easier (and cheaper) to find out there is an easy fix for an underperforming ad than to scrap all of that hard work and start from the beginning. Because ads work in complex ways, small edits to an ad can often reap big improvements in its overall performance. Conversely, if an ad is highly Attention getting, it is helpful to know what worked in order to carry those learnings forward in future advertising. The word of the day, folks, is actionable. We don’t want to paste a number in a report; we want to discover what worked, what didn’t and how to make it better

First up, there’s the standard, but ever so helpful, close-ended diagnostic ratings we call the Drivers of Attention: “The commercial is entertaining,” “The commercial is unique” and so on. But what if an ad gets average Attention but has above average entertainment, uniqueness and involvement scores? Was it all a lie? Not really. What’s more likely is that the commercial is a potentially bigger idea than the attention score gives it credit. It just needs a little spit and shine.  Conversely, what happens if there are elevated Barriers to Attention? It’s found confusing, etc? For this, we must turn to our Flow of Attention®.

The Flow of Attention measures how the eye works as a camera, picking out and retaining imagery that it finds most meaningful or noteworthy. In a survey for a TV spot, respondents are asked to look at still images taken from the commercial (shown in random order). They are then simply asked “Do you remember seeing this image in the commercial?” From this question and in conjunction with the diagnostics, a wealth of information is derived. We are able to pinpoint areas that drove a great Attention score or those that were lost on viewers resulting in weak Attention.

After the data is compiled, the images are put back in their original order and a graph is created showing what we call the “flow” of the ad.

The Flow of Attention graph makes visible the rhythms of visual storytelling. On this graph the height of the picture tells you the percentage of the audience that is paying attention to each particular image. Peak moments, like the three shown above, turn out to be the keys to understanding how the structure and drama of film drive attention, branding and motivation.

When analyzing the graph, we look at the overall shape and content of the curve in addition to:
1. The opening frames – Did it immediately grab the audience? Does it have a rising       opening?
2. Did the ad hold Attention from beginning to end? Was there an overall build in
3. Continuity in the flow – Were sections of the ads lost on viewers? Were there
discontinuities? If so, viewers may be off track and/or confused with a transition or
section of the ad
4. Focal points of Attention – The more Attention getting an ad is, the more peaks of
Attention it tends to have. It’s showing that the audience is focused on the important
stuff….like the brand.

So there you go. A simple tool that answers a resounding “Yes” to the question, “Is a picture worth a thousand words?”

As always, we welcome your feedback. If you have any questions about us or our methodology, please e-mail me, Sonya Duran, at

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