Grey buildings_crop

OPINION8 February 2018

Do take notice

Media Opinion UK

Advertising response is all about being noticed, which becomes increasingly difficult in a cluttered media environment where so much is automatically filtered out says Blinc’s Neil Griffiths. 

We are reflexive creatures. In many ways, it’s what’s most creaturely about us. There is stimulus and we respond. We have higher functions that enable us to make decisions about the stimulus and our response, but the response is something we cannot avoid.

We possess a greater range of responses than our fellow creatures, and unlike creatures, context can change our decision-making post-reflex. But in the first instance we are generally the same, and two reflexes are key: instant withdrawal, say from pain; and noticing, turning to a flash of colour or sound in our peripheral vision.

A man who had visited Soviet Russia in the 1970s said he couldn’t understand why the place looked so grey, not felt or seemed, but looked. It was only on his return to Europe that he realised it was because there was no advertising. Anywhere.

It is interesting that he didn’t notice it at the time. It might be that because we don’t need advertising, when it’s not there, we don’t miss it, at least not as advertising, but clearly it brightens up the place a bit. These days, Russia is no longer grey. Advertising is everywhere, as it is here. ‘Everywhere’ being operative.

This is why noticeability is so important. It is not a given that we will pay attention to something just because it is there. Advertising is now an environment context in which advertising must get noticed; it’s like a face in a crowd. There are no grey walls anymore. There are barely any walls – if it’s not glass it’s mostly advertising.

And while it is self-evident that we will only pay attention to something if we have noticed it – which means being reflexively drawn to it – that’s just the beginning, the first step. We can notice and then disregard. Most of the time we do. Actually, most of the time we ignore or filter out or pass over – otherwise we’d be subjected to sensory overload.

The beginning of successful advertising effectiveness is Noticeability + Appeal: we reflexively turn-to an ad and then we linger because we like what we see.

At Blinc, we’ve been working on noticeability for many years. We have a huge database of advertising demonstrating what positive and negative noticeability looks like (first 1 second of exposure), and how positive noticeability (seconds 2 and 3 ) increases sustained attention by 300%.

In fact, it would be wrong to compare the effects of positive noticeability to that of negative noticeability, because in a real environment negative noticeability means no one’s looking. Your advertising might as well be a grey wall in Soviet Russia.

Neil Griffiths is a director at Blinc