App users opt in with rewarded videos (Study)

Neuroscience study suggests interstitial video may not be the most engaging format

Jared Lindzon October 04, 2016

A new neuromarketing study has found measurable differences in people’s reactions to in-app rewarded video ads compared with standard interstitial video ads.

The study, which was conducted by mobile ad platform MediaBrix along with neuroscience research firms True Impact and Neurons Inc., used brain-scanning EEG machines along with eye-tracking technology to measure how 62 study participants reacted to the same creative in different contexts. The study used ads provided by MillerCoors as well as an unnamed global confectionary brand.

Researchers concluded that in-app, opt-in video ads (served within an application and offering users rewards) resulted in eight times more mental engagement, three times more time spent with the brand and more brand recall and positive sentiment, compared with standard pop-up video ads.

Nearly 90% of study participants watched the reward ad in full when it was presented in the context of an in-app experience. By comparison, only 25% of those who were served pop-up ads watched the entire thing.

Ads on the Brain (with Diana Lucaci)

Diana Lucaci, CEO of True Impact, believes that this highly technical approach to ad research yields more objective results than focus groups and surveys. For example, one key metric taken into consideration was motivation, an instinct that tells the brain whether it should approach or avoid what it sees.

“Movation is that gut feeling reaction we have automatically and use on a daily basis,” said Lucaci. “For the imbedded opt-in [ads], we found four times the level of motivation over the interstitial [ads], which was surprising. I didn’t think it would be that much.”

Another metric taken into consideration was cognitive load, which measures how much energy the brain is dedicating to a task.

“With the embedded opt-in ad, we see a sustained level of cognitive load, consistent with how they were before they got the ad, and that level is sustained even after they go back into the game,” said Lucaci, adding that researchers witnessed a significant drop in cognitive load after participants were served a pop-up video ad.

The reason for the discrepancy, said Lucaci, is that in-app ads that provide rewards create an emotional connection, while pop-ups are largely considered a nuisance.

“You’re prompted when you’re out of lives or points, so it comes to you at a moment in time when your emotions are engaged,” she said. “The second difference is you see the content of the game. You’re not taken out of the experience. You can still see in the background that you’re still in the game.”

Lucaci added that neurological studies have been gaining popularity among marketers over the past five years, a trend which she expects to continue into the foreseeable future.

“It’s a huge culture shift that needs to happen with marketers and advertisers,” she said. “Emotions can actually be quantified, they can be measured and they can be tied to ROI.”