Bravo: Thematic Links With Shows Lift Ad Effectiveness

Bravo and Neuro-Insight team up to show correlation between ad themes and program content

Bravo has conducted a study on ad receptivity (and no, its findings were not “OMG Bravo is the gr8est”) in tandem with market research company Neuro-Insight, and the report contains a surprising conclusion: It doesn’t actually matter that much if an ad’s product is endemic to the program a consumer is watching (meaning that it matches the show’s content).

Or rather, it does matter, but a match between an ad’s theme and the program matters more. For example, a marketer can run a makeup ad during a fashion makeover show and get the expected category bump. But Acura, say, can also run an ad focusing on the car’s beauty and luxury (as opposed to horsepower or mileage or vampire-killing headlights) and get even better retention with the viewer, who perks back up when something that looks thematically similar to the show he was already watching comes on.

Yes, you read that right. Marketers get better retention if the category doesn’t match, and the theme does.

The study calls these ads “neo-contextual,” and their advantages are considerable. The former will get a 15 percent advantage over an ad that’s not matched at all as opposed to 9 percent for an ad that matches only by category.

Third, and most effective (a 19 percent boost), are network-created “program-hybrid” ads, which use show elements or talent.

Bravo competitor Scripps confirms this. A study on that company’s HGTV found that product and brand recall were much higher for a custom-made Audi spot than a typical spot from the same manufacturer on other networks.

And yes, David Kaplan, Bravo’s vp of research, said that his network is definitely building its hybrid ad biz.

The technical end of the study is handled by Neuro-Insight, a regular player in the peer-reviewed Journal of Advertising Research.

The company owns a methodology called steady-state topography, in which subjects wear a headset (similar to one used to perform an EEG) and watch a video on a visor attached to the headgear.

The visor displays a dim flicker at the edge of vision to stimulate a regular, measurable brain activity that can be used as a baseline. Any changes in that activity can be dissected to give researchers a good idea of when during the video viewers formed long-term memories, and of what.

That methodology is important because researchers came across another unusual factoid when looking at the data. “Not only do these custom creatives work well in their own right, but they work better in tandem with the advertisers’ own spot,” said Kaplan.

A traditional spot gets a 14 percent bump when preceded by a hybrid, in fact.

It’s good news not just for Bravo, but for other outfits like Food Network and History, who also market bespoke campaigns directly to clients.

“There’s a lot of value if you’re making the ad feel like part of the program,” Kaplan said.