Conceptual Closure: How Advertisers Can Increase Brand Memorability

man in front of tvHave you ever replayed an advertisement in your head but can’t remember who it was for? You’re not losing your memory. Many advertisers get so caught up in the story they want to tell and how they want to tell it that they fail to consider the most important piece of any advertisement: the branding. Ultimately, this means wasted ad spend and, worse, no sales lift for their product. What can advertisers do to make sure their branding is memorable?

Neuro-Insight chairman and chief neuroscientist, Dr. Richard Silberstein, recently published a scientific paper with Dr. Shaun Seixas, and Geoff Nield on Conceptual Closure, a phenomenon that explains why ads often lose their viewers right when it matters most. In simple terms, Conceptual Closure occurs when our brains sense that a narrative or concept is coming to an end and a temporary lull in memory processing occurs as a result. Neuro-Insight possesses the only technology on the market that can pinpoint moments of Conceptual Closure and give brands simple solutions that are guaranteed to increase brand memorability.


How Does Conceptual Closure Work?

Our brains are extremely limited in their ability to process information. Our eyes alone transmit close to 10,000,000 bits of information to our brain every second, only 120 bits of which are actually processed. Your iPhone has better processing speed, by comparison. As a result, our brains have to be selective when deciding what gets stored into long-term memory. To aid in this selection process, we organize incoming information into distinct segments or “chunks.” These segments are separated by what neuroscientists call “Event Boundaries.” Walking through a door or looking out of a window, for instance, can trigger an Event Boundary. 

Recent research suggests that information encoded directly before or after an Event Boundary is often more memorable and easier to recall. However, certain contexts and corresponding Event Boundaries produce a brief drop in long-term memory processing. Imagine an ad that follows an on-camera narrator. Maybe they’re selling insurance and walking down a sun-washed, residential street. At the end of the pitch, the narrator turns from the camera and walks away. The screen fades to black and a brand logo appears. Even if the narrative is powerful and engagement is high, viewers will recognize that the story is coming to an end. This effectively tells our brains that it’s time to stop paying attention, which impedes brand recall. Real-world examples of Conceptual Closure are often far less obvious and impact subconscious memory processing in hard-to-detect ways. 

What Should Advertisers Do?

The way we process memories is complex. Yet, many marketers use simple tools to determine a brand’s memorability. Traditionally, advertisers conduct research via focus groups and surveys, asking for a conscious response to an advertisement that was seen just moments earlier. This is not an accurate way to predict in-market recall. Sure, respondents may be able to restate the name of the brand directly after viewing the advertisement, but what about in two weeks? What about determining if a respondent’s memory is associated with negative or positive emotional states? Oftentimes, consumers don’t even have to consciously remember a brand for it to impact purchase decisions. So, why are we collecting conscious data? When you add Conceptual Closure to the equation, it becomes even more apparent just how difficult it is for traditional research to give brands a clear picture of an ad’s memorability. Dr. Richard Silberstein’s research suggests that Steady State Topography holds the answers to questions that other research methods can’t solve. Understanding how our brains build memories makes it easier for brands to design advertisements that viewers will remember.

How Can Neuro-Insight Help?

Neuro-Insight’s technology does more than predict recall. SST can be used to make strategic optimizations and minimize the negative effects of Conceptual Closure. By producing a second-by-second analysis of any creative, Neuro-Insight highlights specific moments where conceptual closure is inhibiting long-term memory processing. Our analysts then offer actionable insights that can be used to make edits at any stage in the creative process. Read the full study to learn more about Neuro-Insight’s research on Conceptual Closure. To find out how Neuro-Insight can help your brand avoid simple branding missteps, reach out to our team today! 

Full compass with layersAsset 3
Full compass with layersAsset 3

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