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The Battle for Attention – Cannes Lions Innovation Festival 2015

We presented our neuroscience research into the effects of multi-screening on brand recall at Cannes Lions Innovation Festival 2015.

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The Battle for Attention – Cannes Lions Innovation Festival 2015

  1. 1. @danmachen Digital Revolution vs. Human Evolution
  2. 2. At HeyHuman we obsess about the relationships people really have with brands and the difference between what they say, and actually do As part of ongoing behavioural research, we found it gets really interesting when you look at relationships with tech brands and brands empowered through technology People say it helps them multi-task and dominate their lives – and say (and really mean it) that they ‘can’t live without it’ The question arises though – what is this obsessive relationship doing to our heads? And from a marketing perspective what does it mean for attention and memory around our branded messages Working with neuroscientists, we leant into the hard questions about multi-screening and attention
  3. 3. vs. Human Evolution Time Digital Revolution Rate of Change
  4. 4. Before we dive into the brain let’s take a macro view Digital technology still conforms with ‘Moore’s Law’, which suggests the number of transistors (memory and performance) will double every 2 years This has continued for 50 years (even to the surprise of the inventor of Moore’s Law) By comparison our brain is flat-lining, even decreasing. Over 20,000 years we have lost 10% of grey matter - about the size of a tennis ball. Good news is this is not an ‘idiocracy’, brains have become faster and more energy efficient for less physically demanding lives. Given brains use 20% of daily energy this is critical!
  5. 5. the economy of attention
  6. 6. But what’s this flatline mean for attention and memory? Harvard Business calculated that the ‘dollar value’ of attention increased by 20% in last 4 years (based on rising demand vs. our finite supply of brain power) In economic terms, the demands of digital messaging are outstripping cerebral supply The value of attention is only likely to increase Because we have an abundance of messaging, but a poverty of attention
  7. 7. The danger is as playwright Richard Foreman described it is that we become like “pancake people spread wide and thin.” By its very nature, digital is designed to disrupt Our minds are so disposed to be distracted, they sometimes create the distraction This is reflected by how we feel a buzz in our pocket when our phone has not received a message – this is called ‘Phantom Vibration Syndrome’
  8. 8. When asked what tech does for them, people generally say it helps them multi-task We do it a lot. We look at phones 150 times a day, switch channel 21 times per hour, and spend nearly a day a week on Facebook. But the phrase ‘multi-tasking’ is a misnomer - dating back to the early days of computing, it describes how machines can execute multiple processes simultaneously We haven’t adapted to allow for real multi-tasking. Instead, what we’re doing is something completely different called task-switching Task-switching describes swopping our attention rapidly between tasks Every time you switch focus, there’s a cost to comprehension and mental energy
  9. 9. maxing our cognitive load
  10. 10. The lynchpin of attention is ‘cognitive load’ This describes the number of bits of information that we can consciously think about simultaneously All conscious learning needs to pass through this gate, and it’s becoming increasingly competitive to do so – digital demand is maxing out our head space As people increase their cognitive load their emotional engagement and their focused attention decreases We can’t wait for the brain to evolve. We have to give it a helping hand by making our messages easy to process
  11. 11. dorsolateral pre-frontal cortex cognitive workload
  12. 12. The area of the brain that’s most active in a stimuli rich environment is the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex – this is involved in executive and memory functions With so much coming in and out of the brain, the challenge is that we don’t give ourselves time to encode information to longer term memory - goes into striatum and not back to hippocampus Every ping of a message erodes the process of forming longer term memories An unread email can reduce your working memory by 10 points – this is a more significant effect than smoking cannabis This is naturally a challenge for brands who are trying to create memory webs of positive associations
  13. 13. Objective: to understand what happens to attention, emotion and cognitive load in an increasingly multi-screen, high stimuli environment Phase 1: TV only Phase 2: TV and laptop Phase 3: TV, laptop and mobile
  14. 14. tv only tv + pc tv + pc + smartphone disengaged
  15. 15. As we layer on technology, various things happen Cognitive load and distraction increases with greater device use Attention drops as device use builds – 92% ad recall drops to 32% Emotional engagement decreases as the number of devices increases When stimuli reaches its peak we witness ‘cognitive collapse’ as people zone out from being overloaded…
  16. 16. As people multi-task more, it becomes increasingly difficult for us to communicate to them. Their cognitive load increases and it becomes harder for them to take on new information. So what’s the solution? Unless we put chips in our heads our brains aren’t going to evolve quick enough, so we need to give people a helping hand. There are some things we can do to communicate using other open channels into people’s brains, and the right strategy for brands moving forward is to place an increased focus on what we’re calling ‘Brain-friendly Creative’. Since cognitive load is like the brain’s equivalent to RAM, we need to do the same thing you’d do if your computer was overloaded – overclock it. We need to find new ways to get more out of the limited capability we have.
  17. 17. #1
  18. 18. We can over-clock cognition, by making good use of other channels of people’s working memory Audio is a primal sense that is often underplayed – it is most powerful when it is very tightly synchronised with visuals as we will see in the following ad from Honda Cleverly synchronises sound and makes use of a speed reading app – up to 1,000 words a minute There is increasing interest and sophistication in multi-sensory marketing, particularly ‘neurosonic’ design
  19. 19. #2
  20. 20. Storytelling is a tricky mistress – dominant narrative can actually come at the cost of of brand memorability That is why Magicians place such a focus on storytelling as they don’t want you to know what the other hand is doing In our context this is a challenge: because the narrative story can become the main take-out at the cost of remembering what the brand message is We are seeing an increased practice based on Byron Sharp’s work ‘How Brands Grow’ By understanding the brand’s strongest visual cues, (key brand assets), we can make it simpler for people to connect with brands by unconsciously priming them towards our brand
  21. 21. When you’re at a party and the room is full of noise, you always manage to hear if someone says your name on the other side of the room This is called the ‘cocktail party effect’ – it explains how people are able to focus in on one specific piece of stimuli if they detect saliency Brands can capitalise on this to help grab people’s attention by creating contextually relevant content and experiences Content should be personalised wherever possible - we should use multiple APIs to bring in contextual data where valuable – name, location, understanding the time of day people receive your messages, mindset, proximity, weather This equally relevant to social, as POS – we need to know what triggers attention in context most strongly
  22. 22. In the videos you saw what tech is doing to our heads In terms of attention, brands and agencies must consider the real-world context our messages are received in We need to reframe the ‘disruptive’ model of advertising – we are communicating amidst constant partial attention Agencies and brands need to make campaigns easy to process for audiences that are already overloaded with messaging Understand brain friendly techniques - multi-sensory marketing, simplicity over storytelling, conquering context If we really want to get beyond what people say about brands, and into what they actually do this neuroscience is one small step towards a giant leap in creative insight
  23. 23. dan.machen@heyhuman.com neil.davidson@heyhuman.com @HeyHumanAgency

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