neuromarketing brainIf you’re thinking about running an iPad campaign, new stats from Universal McCann, Time, Inc. and EmSense – a neuromarketing company – offer insights into how to make your ads both effective and enjoyable.

The research focused on iPad owners' reaction to and cognition of ads as determined by sensors that monitored their brainwaves.

The trio of companies studied 180 iPad owners using eye-tracking technology, surveys, one-on-one interviews as well as electroencephalography (EEG) readings to determine emotion and cognition. The goal was to provide some scientific insights - not just hype - into the iPad ad experience. Data was presented at the Ad Age Media Evolved conference in NYC.

A new definition for “engagement”

Engagement is often interchangeable with time-spent when it comes to interactive ads. This study produced three key elements of a new definition, at least when it comes to iPad ads:

  • Visual attention – how well the ad functions at grabbing the viewer's attention and making them spend more time with it
  • Accessibility – whether the ad offers easy entry points that keep users engaged, or pull them in further (these could be buttons that say "swipe here" or "tilt the iPad to see more")
  • Propulsion – the ability to actually get readers to move from the first page of an ad through to the interactive elements

So when you’re thinking of creating an iPad ad for your campaign, start with those three factors in mind. How will it look, and how will you hold the viewer's attention? How will it draw users through to the cool factor? How will the interaction actually function? 

It's an iPad, but still keep it simple

In answering those questions, take care not to make your iPad ad too complex. Yes, it’s a beautiful platform with tons of interactive functionality, but the study found that the ads scoring highest on the three engagement barometers were relatively simple:

High-scoring ads in the study had a clean look - they weren't repurposed internet ads and they didn't have a lot of text. When emotion and cognition measured high, the user was drawn into the ad.

High emotion and low cognition were preferable readings -- meaning, the ad produced positive emotions without prompting the user to think too much. Negative emotion and high cognition indicated the user was frustrated.

Confusing interactive features or superfluous buttons generally elicited frustration in the user, ending in what [Mike Haggerty, SVP and director of marketing accountability research at UM] called a lack of propulsion, or a wasted opportunity to connect a user to a brand.

The key takeaway? KISS – the well-known acronynm for "keep it simple, stupid" – seems to apply here. Add an easy conversion path, a simple call to action, and interactive features that are not overly complex, and you'll have an effective iPad ad that viewers will actually enjoy seeing and engaging with.

Photo Credit: dierk schaefer via Flickr

Tameka Kee

Published 2 December, 2010 by Tameka Kee

Tameka Kee has been covering digital media with a focus on online advertising, social media and gaming since 2007. Find her at or follow her on Twitter

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