How to Capture Mindshare In a Digital World

young people on their phones, tablets, and computer

Video advertising in a digital world is a game of strategy. Digital media gives marketers many ways to connect with their audiences and on more screens and platforms than ever before. But creative clutter has multiplied and there is a high propensity for audiences to simply skip digital content. Most viewers give an ad less than 5 seconds to prove its worth before they move on[i].

Digital video creative can secure attention and receptivity against the minefield of distractions, according to viewers[ii]. So this new world of digital demands that marketers engage with viewers while proactively incorporating the triggers that compel viewers to stick. But in order to be most effective, these triggers should be incorporated into the content early in the creative development process.

Micro-Target the Creative

Consumers are more likely to pay attention to an ad if it’s a category or brand that they are already interested in and/or combined with a person or song they like. And with the explosion of big data, brands can now apply behavioral data to understand the audience and specifically target creative accordingly.

For example, an ad that focused on uncovering that amazing find at an outlet mall was highly motivating to those who love that discovery feeling. However, the “discovery” was also very important to relatability. While a home décor item no one else has could be really intriguing to some, others want to know that they can get a popular athletic apparel brand at a lower price than what others pay. In this case, the most compelling ad sets up the creative to address specific needs and applies micro-targeting to media flighting.

However, there’s a fine line marketers must walk between advertising that feels like relevant content to their consumers versus that which feels like stalking. Across the globe, consumers feel invaded when they are targeted too closely, particularly when it is based on their web browsing history.

Be Bold

Viewers give you just a few seconds to make them stop and watch. Being bold doesn’t have to be shocking—just under a third of those surveyed say they’d avoid hitting the skip button if you offer them something intriguing[i].

Consider the Android “Piano” spot, where the keys on the piano all emit the same sound. This was interesting enough to viewers to stick around and find out why. Or consider the Tide-To-Go “Interview” spot, where the interviewer is drawn to a talking stain on an interviewee’s shirt—it was the most viewed ad in 2008.

Visual appeal and design also go a long way, so be creative about how to capture attention, in a way that works best for the brand[i].

Make People Feel Something

Ads that evoke strong emotion generate more impact, are more likely to go viral, and deliver more brand recognition, via short-term sales and long-term equity. Because emotion is a powerful influence on brand equity, it’s important to ensure that the message comes across as intended.

For example, in a specific Pre-LinkNow qualitative research, that uses Kantar Millward Brown’s LINK™ framework, we found that a fashion apparel ad addressing social power norms of women and men elicited strong positive and negative feelings, and required some discussion to flesh out the true meaning of the creative. As a result, this brand had a real need to clarify the message to ensure that audiences received it well.

Humor is a great way to evoke positive emotion because it provides a happy connection with the brand advertised. But it can also be tricky and not appropriate for every ad. To effectively leverage the funny bone, be sure you understand the reasons to incorporate humor in advertising.


Viewers like to learn new things, particularly in a field or category in which they’re already engaged. Less traditional content, in the form of tutorials, expert guidance, or reviews is well received[i] because it feels less like advertising. But regardless of format, follow the 3 to 5-second rule, and be sure to offer tips or solutions right from the start.

Consider Length

Shorter ads are more likely to keep audiences engaged until the end[ii]. However, longer videos do have greater storytelling potential. These longer length videos must be very engaging from the beginning to keep audiences watching until the end. When doing research, be sure to expose the various lengths to audiences so they can help you identify strengths and weaknesses of each.

Sometimes, it’s not always clear or intuitive what belongs in the cut-down executions. For example, in a qualitative research study for skincare creative, there was a :15, :30, and :60 cut. The audience quickly identified the information missing from the shorter executions, including favorite elements of the :30, and elements that prompted them to stay engaged to the end of the :60 cut.

Respect the Medium

Audiences engage with video differently within each medium; a 30 second TV ad may or may not work in the same way on YouTube or Facebook because these platforms have different characteristics. Yet, they each offer unique ways to connect with audiences at different times and places. It’s important to keep these differences in mind from the very beginning of creative development.

A specific use case of this involved quantitative creative research[iii] that revealed the effectiveness of an auto brand video was compromised in a Facebook newsfeed relative to a television context. Due to the nature of Facebook—where video auto-plays and audiences primarily experience the content in mute—viewers weren’t exposed to the full creative. They either stopped watching before a key humorous “scream” scene or the message and the emotional reward was compromised.

Thankfully, Pre-LinkNow helps brands understand how a target audience perceives the creative direction before investing scarce resources in production and media. The qualitative insights often garnered can direct creative teams so that consumers receive the ad favorably and as intended. To walk through an in-depth example of how a Pre-LinkNow study works, download the case study below. You’ll learn how a personal care brand gained important qualitative feedback during their advertising campaign testing.

[i] Kantar Millward Brown “Create Digital Ads That Drive Brand Growth” 2017
[ii] Kantar Millward Brown “Ad Reaction: Video Creative in a Digital World” 2015
[iii] Kantar Millward Brown Link for Video Illustrative case study “Smart ForFour” UK 2017

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