Tuesday - June 10th, 2014
Concurrent Sessions E

The Brain Game

Marketers have a wealth of touch points at their disposal to help command their audience’s attention; they need to start using them in the right way.

Any marketing strategy needs to work with the human brain rather than against it, if it is to be effective. This is particularly true when it comes to the challenge of capturing and holding human attention, the essence of effective brand communications. Our understanding of attention has been transformed in recent years. However, such an understanding can only contribute when it is incorporated meaningfully into creative and media strategy. Campaign planning can no longer end with putting the creative assets that we happen to have in front of the consumers that we are looking to target – and expecting those consumers’ attention to play along. It needs to include an appreciation of how, where and when to most effectively engage people’s attention.

TNS will provide examples from around the world of campaigns that managed to capture and hold the audience’s attention effectively. These campaigns surprised us, generated an emotional reaction, and were relevant, aligning with tasks that consumers were focused on at the time (consciously or unconsciously).

We will discuss new insights in how the brain works such as the Zeigarnik1 effect which describes how our brain remembers unresolved tasks better than completed ones – and can be used to help capture prolonged attention through marketing that is more demanding of us, plays with our expectations or compels us to interact with it. The success of some of the most compelling new advertising campaigns lies in this area, with the ads not immediately explaining all aspects of the message, leaving it to the target audience to try and figure it out.

Creative approaches are not the only influence on how our attention works. We will show cross-media research that repeatedly shows that the optimal level of exposure for any campaign also depends on the media platform being used. The same ad will support very different levels of exposure when viewed on TV than when viewed online – and this testifies to the huge influence that context has on how our attention is directed.


Margot Acton

Senior Vice President, Brand & Communications Lead, TNS Canada

  • Joined TNS Canada in 1989; 20+ years experience
  • Specialist in brand and communication research, segmentation, portfolio management and complex market measurement
  • Managed segmentation research for Canada’s leading clients assisting with the development of strategies to build and strengthen large brands
  • Senior lead for creative testing, finished ad testing, strategic brand positioning, portfolio management and in-market brand communications tracking
  • Led new method for Digital Media Measurement and Audience based digital segment targeting, focusing on the impacts of digital media strategies on brands and the synergy between digital media with social and traditional media
  • Recent work with Kraft, Mondelez, Unilever, McCain, Danone, Canada Post, Toyota, Mercedes and Ford
  • Regularly presents and facilitates cross-functional workshops with senior client teams and agency partners