Achtung! 5 key points from Orlando Wood’s new work

System1’s Chief Innovation Officer, Orlando Wood, presented his new film Achtung! at the IPA’s EffWorks Global conference this week.

The new film takes as its subject attention – how you get it and how you keep it – and includes a lot of brand new research in partnership with Facebook to look at the effectiveness of digital video ads.

Read a summary of Orlando’s point of view here. In this post, we’ll cover off five of the key take-aways from Orlando’s new work.


Right brained features drive more business effects online

In Lemon, Orlando showed that TV ads become more effective when they use more right-brained features (like a focus on people and narrative, dialogue, and a strong sense of place). In Achtung!, Orlando repeats the analysis but focusing on campaigns in the IPA’s effectiveness Databank that use online video, and for a subset of the campaigns, where online was the dominant video channel. It turns out that despite the change in medium, the same thing happens. The higher the “right brained skew” in a campaign, the greater the number of very large business effects it creates for its brand.


Want sustained attention? Aim for character, incident and place.

Attention is the currency of online advertising – but what does it really mean? In Achtung!, Orlando examines different types of attention, and concludes that the most valuable types for long-term brand growth are the types of attention governed by the right brain, like sustained attention.

In order to win the attention of the right-brain, the most useful thing an ad can do is be able to answer three questions. Who’s involved? What happens? Where is it set? If your ad can answer these – if it includes character, incident, and place – the chances are it will be of interest to the right brain and it will be more effective. Much video advertising and in particular, online video advertising, cannot be described by these features today he concludes.


Slightly right-brained ads are better than none

One of the most interesting findings in Achtung! is that even though very few ads on digital platforms have a strong right-brained skew, right-brainedness is still an advantage. The most right-brained ads still outperform the most left-brained ads, even when the actual level of right-brained skew in the former is very low. In other words, adding even a few more human touches to appeal to the right-brain (and minimising those left-brain features) can pay dividends.


Left brained features can drive direct effects

So why do marketers make so many left-brained ads with no character, incident or place – full of people staring at the camera, words on the screen and products in abstract settings? Well, these left-brained features do have one advantage – they are better at driving direct effects (like searches or clicks). To drive these kinds of direct effect, it might pay to think of the first few seconds of your video as presenting a billboard to your targeted audience. David Ogilvy’s advice on posters was to create a visual scandal, to deliver your selling promise in words, but also pictorially, use the largest possible type, make your brand visible, use strong pure colours and never use more than three elements in your design.


Online video isn't all about activation

The focus on direct effects is responsible for the received wisdom that advertising for online platforms must be ‘relevant’. This results in ads that favour frontality, instruction and product (left-brain characteristics). Whilst this kind of advertising, when served to a receptive, targeted audience, can drive web traffic, it misses the bigger prize. Left-brained advertising can move dashboard numbers, but the much greater opportunity lies in adopting a more right-brained approach, which will give you the best chance of driving sales gain, market share growth and profit gain. Relevance isn’t enough, you have to entertain.

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