Who won Christmas in attention?
Asda came a close second. Powered by Will Ferrell, its ad was actually more noticeable than Sainsbury’s (66% noticing, vs 62%), but it held viewers’ attention for slightly less time, meaning that it generated 20,214 seconds of attention for every 1,000 impressions.
Boots was even more noticeable (70%), though slightly less strong at holding attention again.
The standout performer, however, was Aldi. Its 40-second cutdown was noticed by 77% of viewers — getting on for twice the average of 43% of 30-second ads, and the highest of all the ads reported — and for 22.79 seconds.
This means that Aldi’s 40-second ad generated more attention than many of its 60-second competitors.
All of these ads have performed well above average — as one might expect from some of the country’s best advertisers and agencies, pulling out all the stops.
But what can the rest of us take forward from this into the new year?
Make the story we have to tell a good one
Firstly, time matters. Sometimes, it seems, it’s worth pushing the boat out to match a big story with a long time length.
All these ads have generated huge amounts of attention, which is likely to have translated into deeper, richer memories and impressive business results. They would be unable to achieve this without investing in significant spots of time.
Secondly, creative matters. Even within these top 10 advertisers, there’s a great deal of variation in how much attention each ad generates. For instance, the percentage of the ad playtime that got viewed varied from 57% to 27%. The media can lead the horse to water, but it seems only the creative can make it drink.
The best-performing creative was united by its use of character, music, humour and, most of all, story. The strongest ads had the strongest stories with beginnings, middles and ends. As the voice over of the Lidl ad knowingly concludes: “Big hug, tasty food, narrative complete. Now that’s a Christmas you can believe in.” It’s also advice the rest of the industry might take.
Telling stories is core to what we do in advertising: they are the most efficient means of gaining and holding attention, and creating compelling memories in the minds of our target audience.
If we are going to go to all the effort of making a film and buying the airtime, we might as well make the story we have to tell a good one.
In that sense, I’m with Noddy Holder: I wish it could be Christmas every day.
Michael Follett is managing director at Lumen Research and one of the media industry’s leading experts on attention measurement and effectiveness. He writes for The Media Leader each month.
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