NEWS29 January 2015

Nickelodeon uses facial coding to measure ad response

News UK Youth

UK — Kids TV channel Nickelodeon has embarked on a research project to measure children’s in-the-moment responses to advertising.


Speaking at the MRS conference on Kids and Youth Research, its head of insight Alison York explained that there was a clear trend for one giant screen that the family gathered around in the living room, with multiple additional personal handheld devices.

In terms of TV advertising, children’s ad recall is very high – 75% can remember an ad on TV recently. And there is an understanding of what TV advertising is from an early age.

York explained that the media company worked with Momentum Research to use facial coding to measure emotions and therefore engagement. It identified five key reactions: humour, active engagement, pleasure, displeasure and disengagement – with the first two the most important.

“We were sceptical to begin with and it took us a while to get our heads around but we may now use it for content development as well as for advertising,” said York.

She identified some key pointers for talking to kids in this medium: have one key message; use characters; use audio cues; have a clear and interesting voice-over; keep it simple and talk on their level.

“This is the emergence of the swipe generation: there is an average of 8.4 different devices in a household,” she said. There has been a particular increase in tablets and the rise of children owning them thanks to hand-me-downs from parents.

However she pointed to some theories on multi-screening not being pertinent to children.

“Seventy-three percent of children say they are multi-screening when watching TV but we think there is over-claim in this,” said York. “It depends on the developmental stage as to whether they are capable of multi-screening.”

So, four to six year olds can’t do it, seven to nine year olds start to practice multi-screening, so while they may appear to be multi-screening they are actually flicking between the two. By the age of 10, children start to multi-screen said York.

In Nickelodeon’s research it found that 50% of the time when kids are watching TV, that is the only thing they are doing.