The Brand Benefits Study

The rise of AV advertising online and in social media has been steep, with clients drawn by high reach, comparatively low CPT’s and trackability. But what about its impact in comparison with cinema, a more traditional AV platform? Is it possible to compare the effectiveness of AV ads on social media, with those in Cinema? After all, they’re very different media, consumed for different reasons, in very different ways.  P&D’s starting point was to frame our objective in this way: What is the difference in the impact of AV advertising seen at the cinema compared to when it’s seen on Facebook or on YouTube?

We worked with Mindlab, specialists in testing implicit responses to brands. The testing focused on attention, emotion, association and engagement. Mindlab have expertise in quantifying intuitive responses through its online neuromarketing consumer tools, founded on System 1 implicit testing.

124 Participants were split into three groups, with each group viewing five advertisements embedded within a different medium – Cinema, social media (Facebook) and YouTube. After viewing the content, participants completed a series of both intuitive-response and self-report tests.

We measured:

  1. Recall and memorability
  2. Positivity towards the brands
  3. Brand perceptions
  4. Preference towards the brands

Additionally, we measured participants’ electrodermal activity, measuring the skin’s electrical resistance. This provided a physiological read on participants’ emotional arousal. The different groups’ results were then compared to determine what effect the viewing medium had on the individual.

By using these implicit techniques, we could monitor what people felt rather than what they said they felt.

Our study did cover explicit research results such as claimed behaviour and spontaneous awareness both of which were positive towards Cinema. However, what made this study so unique was the insight that came from the implicit testing. The decisions we make are influenced not just by factors we are aware of and can describe, but also by factors we’re either not conscious of or can’t explain.

Brand Positivity

To test brand positivity, Mindlab conducted an Implicit-Associations Test (IAT), which would detect the strength of a person’s automatic or instinctive association.

Participants completed two sorting tests under time pressure. The test was not about accuracy, but speed of response.

This IAT test was a sorting task in which participants had to match the test brand (and five from the competitor set) with either positive or negative words. The results for this test captured participants’ subconscious attitudes towards the brand by seeing how quickly and accurately people link brands to positive and negative words. We then used this data to show how these attitudes change depending on the screen type they viewed the advertised brand on.

Brand Perceptions

This test looked at how well each viewing environment conveyed specific brand associations. A semi-implicit test was used – participants were asked under time pressure whether they felt a word described the brand that was shown. Some words were category specific, but four common words were used (Quality, Premium, Relevant, Trustworthy). Again, five competitor test brands were included.

Brand Preference

Participants were shown two brand logos and asked to select which they preferred.

Multiple brands and combinations were shown, and the test was time-pressured. The proportion of times a brand was selected provided a measure of its appeal.

Comparing the results showed which medium is more effective at driving preference.

Emotional Response

Unconscious emotional responses and stimulation cause subtle changes in skin moisture levels. We measured these via Electrodermal Activity (EDA), in which 13 participants from each of the three groups were tracked, in order to gain an understanding of why we were seeing such positive results for cinema.


Brand Positivity

We found that for all three environments, seeing brands recently resulted in respondents feeling positive about the brands. However, the results showed just how much more powerful Cinema is at creating brand favourability versus YouTube (+130%) and Facebook (+87%).

Brand Perceptions

Across all the key associations, Cinema outperformed YouTube and Facebook.

Taking ‘Quality’ for example:

Each time the word Quality was shown alongside a test brand, on average, 80% of the Cinema group clicked instinctively that they agreed ‘Quality’ fitted with the brand. YouTube resulted in 63% clicking that they agreed with the pairing, rendering Cinema +28% higher.

Brand Preference

YouTube and Facebook groups yielded similar results. On average, the five test brands were selected around +13% more times than those in the competitive set, showing AV advertising in those environments has a positive effect on brand preference.

However, the Cinema sample was even higher. The test brands were selected +21% more times proving Cinema is +62% more effective on average than YouTube and Facebook in shifting brand preference.

After testing on an artificial ‘level playing field’ we adjusted the results to account for real life behaviour, to see if we could account for and factor in the skipping of and lack of attention given to online AV ads.

Here, we borrowed figures from Channel 4’s ‘Not All VoD is the Same’ study:

This study states that 59% of views on YouTube and 17% of ads on Facebook make it to the 95th percentile of the ad.

Using eye tracking research, they found that ads on YouTube and Facebook only had a 53% attention rate. By multiplying the completion rate and attention rate, we calculated a conversion for a completed attentive ad view, resulting in 31% for YouTube and 9% for Facebook.

CAA FAME research states that 82% of the Cinema audience will be seated before anything is shown on-screen. We can also assume that everyone who is seated when the ads are playing will pay attention to them. So, we calculate a conversion of 82%.

We can then create indices using the cinema conversion rate as 100.

When we overlay these indices onto the figures the Brand Benefits Study produced, we find that Cinema is notably more effective in in driving key KPI’s.

For example, in the Cinema group, spontaneous recall of the five test brands averaged 50%, but for Facebook the average was 41%.

Considering the non-completion of ad views and attention levels, we need to apply an index of 11 to the Facebook result, which reduces the figure of 41% to 4.5%.

4.5% set against 50% for Cinema leads to the conclusion that Cinema is 11 times more effective than Facebook at generating spontaneous ad recall.

Applying the same to brand positivity and preference: Cinema is 6 times more effective than YouTube and 17 times more effective than Facebook at driving brand positivity. It is 4 times more effective than YouTube and 14 times more effective than Facebook at driving brand preference.