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Low cognitive ads most effective, neuroscience research reveals

Adverts that require the lowest cognitive effort to process information generate the highest levels of brand recall, according to research.

Behavioural communications agency HeyHuman launched its research at the SXSW conference. It also discovered that ads with higher levels of cognitive effort are not only less successful but can also cause negative motivations.

During the testing stage, six ‘highly regarded’ ads were evaluated by 20 participants. The ads included





‘Welcome Home’

by Apple, and





‘Playstation: Double Life’

by Sony Bravia.

Participants were played each ad without branding for three seconds, before being asked which brand the ad belonged to. Participants then watched a documentary with three ad breaks in which two of the ads were played each time.

Brain monitoring equipment was used to measure each participant’s motivation, cognitive load and engagement levels.

Neil Davidson, MD at HeyHuman said: “Using neuroscience, we have combined science and art to get to the heart of what makes a truly effective ad. A positive motivational response to an ad is obviously important for overall recall, but it was fascinating to have concrete evidence to show low cognitive load is likely to mean clearer message encoding and more accurate memory.

“Our neuroscience research is constantly showing us how we can improve the relationships between brands and people, and how to create content that is human-centric and stimulates, rather than drains, our brains.”

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