NEWS8 February 2018

Ads more memorable on premium editorial sites than social media

Media News Technology Trends UK

UK – Advertising on premium editorial sites elicits stronger long term memory encoding than ads viewed on social media sites, according to a study commissioned by Newsworks and the Association of Online Publishing (AOP).

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The research, conducted by Neuro-Insight, found that left brain encoding – the part of the brain processing words and detail – is 42% stronger when ads are viewed on premium editorial sites, compared with the same ads viewed on social media sites. Advertising on premium sites generates a 9% stronger response in right brain memory encoding (the emotional and global aspects of processing).

Advertising seen in a premium context was also found to be 29% more engaging than advertising viewed in social media environments (Facebook and YouTube). For the purposes of the study, the metric of ‘engagement’ was the level of people’s involvement, generally triggered by material that is of personal relevance.

Ads in a premium environment also resulted in stronger, more positive emotional responses in respondents, according to the research.

Vanessa Clifford, chief executive, Newsworks, said: “We already knew that context was important for digital ad performance – now we know that it is because the brain processes ads differently depending on where they are encountered. It’s not enough to find the right audience – people need to see ads in an environment that is conducive to memory encoding if we are to build brands longer term and maximise effectiveness. 


The research sought to explore the physiological effects of premium editorial environments on brain responses to advertising. The study used steady state topography (SST), which measures the brain’s electrical activity to report on various cognitive functions. 139 participants aged 18-60 took part in the experiment. Participants were exposed to the same test ads in a premium editorial environment and a social media environment. Additionally, participants encountered various brand communications by browsing freely, and were also shown a film of someone navigating an online journey through both a premium site and a social media site. A premium editorial site was defined in this study as a member of Newsworks or the AOP and a producer of professional editorial content.