Conceptual closure: The impact of event boundaries on long-term memory encoding and advertising effectiveness


This paper introduces the idea of ‘conceptual closure’ in television advertising and reveals how small executional changes to a finished advertisement can significantly enhance advertising effectiveness.

  • In studies of brain activity correlates of television advertising, the authors observed a phenomenon termed ‘conceptual closure’: transient (1–2 second) drops in attention and long-term memory encoding at what they judged to be event boundaries.
  • In advertisements, event boundaries constitute anything that suggests the end of an event, for example the screen changing to a uniform colour, a piece of music coming to an end, a rear view of a car driving away or a door closing.
  • The study suggests that the end of an event or an event boundary triggers conceptual closure.
  • While conceptual closure in general may not compromise advertising effectiveness, it may do so if it immediately preceded a key message or branding.


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