Content Marketing Blog

How our brains process online ads

The sheer scale of advertising we are exposed to these days makes it next to impossible for us to absorb everything we see, which brings up the big question: do online ads actually have an impact on us?

Well, that could depend on the person viewing the ad and how their brain processes information, a new study has found.

Researchers at the University of Illinois analysed how our minds process media content, and found there are two very different ways of gathering information.

Those of us who are only able to focus on one thing at a time, the researchers called ‘analytic’ processors. These people are also more inclined to prefer dead silence when concentrating.

While others tend to absorb everything in front of them – dubbed ‘holistic’ processors by the researchers – and they are more likely to focus better with distractions, such as music.

The study had participants watch a series of video advertisements and then recall what they had just seen.

How to use high value content Click for free download

The results indicated that analytic processors were much better at remembering the video content than their holistic counterparts, but when they were asked to complete a simple task whilst watching the advertisements, they became half as effective at remembering what they were about.

Holistic processors on the other hand were just as effective during both parts of the study, making them the audience most likely to pay attention to absorb advertising content, especially PPC ads and banner ads that only take up a part of a screen.

Analytical thinkers are more likely to be affected by advertisements that are the focus of attention, such as the ads that play at the beginning of a YouTube video.

Interestingly, the researchers also found that mood was a major influencer in how people processed information.

If the participant was in a bad mood, they were more likely to process content analytically, but if they were in a good mood the participants were more likely to take everything in.

While we obviously don’t have the ability to differentiate between analytic and holistic thinkers when creating our content strategy, it’s reassuring to know that a good chunk of consumers will pay attention to our ads and CTAs.

Posted by Dylan Brown