OMA neuroscience study finds digital delivers 63% more impact that classic OOH


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A new research piece by the Outdoor Media Association (OMA) has found that digital out-of-home advertising is significantly more impactful than classic, but also that classic signs can still play a useful role in the marketing mix.

The neuroscience study, the largest of its kind in the world, was conducted over two years by Melbourne-based neuroscience research company Neuro-Insight.

It used eye-tracking and brain-imaging technology to analyse the brain’s neural response when looking at advertising on out-of-home advertising. More than 2,000 people participated in the study and their responses to over 800 classic and digital signs were recorded.

It also recorded a new metric called the Neuro Impact Factor, which members of the OMA will be able to measure in their campaigns from next year.

Neuro-Insight measured the peak moments of long-term memory encoding and emotional intensity, two key metrics linked with mental availability and used to measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns.

The study found that advertising seen on digital out-of-home assets delivers 63% more impact than classic signs. Classic still remains impactful, with classic signs found to be as impactful as a 30-second radio ad or a 15-second TVC.

OMA CEO, Charmaine Moldrich, said the research is a “game-changer” for outdoor. “Not only have we provided undeniable, scientific proof of the subconscious impact of advertising, but we have also shown that just one glance at one of our signs is sufficient for brand messages to elicit an emotional response that encodes into long term memory.

“What’s more, it introduces a qualitative measure that will be added in 2022 to our audience measurement system, MOVE, giving agencies and clients yet another tool to help them plan and buy their out-of-home campaigns.

“The very first neuroscience research we did called The Primal Advantage showed that we are two times more alert when we are outside. This alertness increases our ability to remember messages at a glance. The Neuro Impact applies across formats, and we are building this into our audience measurement platform, MOVE.”

Neuro-Insight CEO, Peter Pynta, said: “What we have accomplished in doing this research is go beyond the ‘how many’ part of the equation that comprises most mature media measurement.

“With the Neuro Impact Factor, we have brought in a quality dimension in a scalable way. We finally have three parts of the triangle of reach, frequency and now impact—and I hope the market shares our vision.”

The research has wider implications for how out-of-home is measured in Australia as well, with the aforementioned Neuro Impact Factor set to be available to use as part of the OMA’s MOVE measurement system from 31 January, 2022.

Moldrich added: “This is another step toward attribution and understanding the value of Out of Home. These results will inform the development of a new currency that advertisers and agencies can use alongside reach and frequency reports: called the Neuro Impact Factor.

“The Factor will be exclusive to MOVE, and the first qualitative metric in the world to unite validated, real-world effectiveness with the quantitative metrics available in the system.

“What we’ve tapped into is the holy grail of advertising—demonstrating to advertisers and agencies that their campaigns work and that they leave a lasting impression in the mind of the audience which can influence future behaviour.”

Avenue C managing partner, Pia Coyle, added: “I think that the OMA has done a really good job of simplifying something really complex and robust, and boiling it down to one Neuro Impact Factor by format is going to be a real help in agencies adopting it quickly.

“The methodology behind the study is thorough and world-class, so we’re excited to bring the Neuro Impact Factor into the vernacular when talking about Outdoor. We’ve always known there is more to Outdoor than what we’ve had in the past. Now we’ve got an extra dimension beyond reach, frequency, site-card, or location to bring that to life — it’s pretty exciting.”

The study follows one conducted by OMA member QMS, also done in partnership with Neuro-Insight, which found that memory encoding, which is key to campaign effectiveness, continued to grow in respondents that were exposed to evolving or digital creative.

The OMA will roll out MOVE 2.0, its new industry standard for digital out-of-home measurement, in 2023.


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