There are literally hundreds of KPI’s marketers use to determine the success of marketing campaigns; success in a way, is in the eyes of the beholder. However, the single most important KPI is also the most difficult one to measure, because it is only detectable behind the eyes of the Consumer. Commercial effectiveness of an advertisement can be summed up in a singularity known as “persuasion shift”, or the subsequent change in consumer preference, which, is a direct result of Long Term Memory (LTM) encoding. According to the Journal of Advertising Research, “LTM is a complex set of processes that have been variously categorized as Procedural and Declarative memories”. Declarative, or semantic memories, are those which are formed by rote memorization. Procedural, or episodic memories, are those which are formed by experiences. Both differ from Short Term Memory (STM), or working memory, in that STM is stored in specific patterns of ongoing neural activity, whereas LTM results in actual new formations of synaptic contacts deep inside of the brain. Think of LTM as the hard drive and STM as the software. Only we are talking organic matter (brain) not synthetic material (computer).
As marketers we have the ability to literally change the consumer hard drive, making long lasting, physical changes to the human brain. This is a power and a privilege that should not be taken lightly and a responsibility which should be taken seriously. We are not merely executing plans, but impacting outcomes on people’s lives. But, given the sheer volume of stimuli bombarding Consumers on a daily basis, how do we perform the herculean task of getting them to not only STOP and pay attention, but to engage on such a level where their undivided attention is creating new neural pathways resulting in physiological changes?
In order to understand how LTM is formed, we must first delve into “engagement”, a term often cited as an important aspect of our marketing campaigns but one we don’t really understand, or at least, don’t quite appreciate the deep psychology that’s involved. Sometimes we refer to it as “stickiness”, or gauge it’s presence as a proxy of “time spent”. In the field of cognitive neuroscience, LTM encoding and engagement are understood to be two processes that are closely linked to one another, engagement occurring when “a stimulus elicits a sense of personal relevance”. Translation: what we like we remember. Since Consumers are not about to lean back and use their Declarative Memory while enjoying their favorite TV show or Podcast, we can bet that they will (unknowingly) be participating in a form of Procedural Memory formation by way of the experience they are having with their favorite content. It is during these precious moments that marketers can insert themselves into the equation and leverage that immersion so as to extend to the messaging within. Not only that, but super-savvy marketers can also create ads that make an imprint on the brain by touching the heart. The ones that do it best are those that appeal to our humanity (not just our consumerism) by featuring a product or service in a story about life; not simply making a story about a product or service (ex: Darth Vader Volkswagen or Doritos Time Machine ads). As an added benefit, they avoid Negative Tactic Evaluations by clearly announcing their sponsorship separate from the content… consumer don’t like covert or overly implicit ad attempts.
The foundations of mega brands that are woven into the fabric of society leverage the power to Engage, Captivate, and Motivate. Those who are entrusted with growing their business are artists who understand science…