Storytelling - Ad Recall, Trust, and Branded Content

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Storytelling - Ad Recall, Trust, and Branded Content

As the number of media channels continues to proliferate, advertisers are facing increased pressure on how to effectively capture attention. Consumer attention has decreased markedly over the last couple of years leading to an increased urgency for advertisers to create short, engaging ads. Furthermore, trust in online advertising has also decreased resulting in low levels of consumer confidence. Many advertisers acknowledge the existential crisis online advertising faces. To reduce this risk of further irrelevance, advertisers are creating streamlined, cross-channel experiences that add value to the customer journey rather than intruding on it.


  • According to a study by Turner Ignite, the average time spent on digital content is 8 seconds down from 12 seconds back in 2000.
  • The abundance of information presented to consumers has played a large role in this reduction making it harder for advertisers to effectively capture consumer attention.
  • An experiment by Nielsen revealed that after consumers were exposed to video ads in a clutter reel, and tested for that memorability again the day after, the levels of branded recognition fell nearly in half overnight. Thereafter, brand recognition stood at that same 50% level five days later.
  • Due to information overload and wavering trust in advertising, consumers- especially young affluent millennials are paying money to avoid online ads. This is reflected in a recent study by Page Fair that revealed ad-blocking software rose by 30% in 2017.
  • Furthermore, an infographic by Invesp shows that the average person is served over 1,700 banner ads per month but only half of them are ever viewed. Click rates for display ad campaigns also only average only 0.1 percent.
  • While some consumers regarded as "progressive pioneers" have some affinity to ads as educational and part of the digital package, many are approaching media with wariness, tuning out ad formats regardless of channel, adopting ad-blocking software, and seeking alternative information sources when researching purchases.


  • A study by Credos and the Advertising Association shows that consumer favorability and trust towards advertising hit a new low of 25% last year compared to 48% in 1992. A similar study found that only 4% of consumers believe advertisers and marketers practice integrity.
  • Consumers feel that the repetitive and obtrusive nature of ads are key reasons for the low level of trust and liking of online ads.
  • Additionally, consumers are also concerned about "suspicious techniques" used by advertisers to sell products. Examples of this are when posts are sponsored but not correctly identified as such or ads that portray unrealistic body image ideals are used to sell products.
  • However, the level of trust differs depending on the ad format. Traditional formats such as print and TV have higher levels of trust compared to online formats. 63% of consumers say they trust ads on TV, 60% trust newspapers, and 58% trust magazines.
  • When it comes to digital ads, 39% of consumers say they trust online banner ads, whereas 39% say they trust mobile ads.
  • Different generations also ascribe to different levels of trust. For example, baby boomers put more trust in brands themselves than their younger peers while millennials are more favorable toward online reviewers.


Advertisers agree that more effort is required to rebuild consumer trust. Some effective ways to do so include:
  • Reducing constant, repetitive advertising that leads to bombardment.
  • Reducing the frequency of ads by using controls such as retargeting.
  • Raising awareness of the self-regulation of advertising content through increasing awareness of regulatory organizations.
  • Protecting data privacy and being transparent on the use of personal data in advertising.


  • Branded content is highly effective when it evokes emotions. A study by Turner Ignite found that 62% of people have a more positive reaction to branded content compared to those who watch 30-sec ads. In fact, emotional engagement increased by 31% during ad viewing experiences.
  • 67% of consumers find branded content to be more influential and 17% are more likely to purchase from featured brands.
  • A study by Nielsen found that branded content outperforms pre-roll advertising as it relates to brand recall and brand lift. Branded content performed well in lifting brand perceptions across KPIs such as affinity, purchase intent, and recommendation intent.
  • Consumers cite captivating, relatable, and high-quality content as the key to effective branded content. Content described as "for people like me" was the most common attribute cited.
  • Perception is also important. Customers perceive branded content as being more consumer-centric because it is less about selling products and more about providing value.
  • Aside from pre-roll advertising, branded content is also more effective than display advertising. A study by IPG and Forbes found that in addition to aided recall’s 59% point increase, brand favorability and purchase consideration was 7 points and 9 points higher consecutively in branded content compared to display ads.
  • Branded content holds up more effectively over time too compared to ad products. 14% of consumers are more likely to seek out more information about the brand after viewing ads.


To find details for the effectiveness of the advertising industry we searched marketing industry publications such as Adage, Marketing Dive, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, The Drum, Nielsen, and Forrester to find information on the current state of advertising. Using this research strategy we were able to find insightful research on the effectiveness of online advertising, consumers' trust and perception of ads as well as the effectiveness of branded content. We noted that the advertising industry faces multiple challenges in capturing customer attention and as a result, advertisers are beginning to invest in value and emotion-driven advertising to connect with customers while eliminating intrusive ad formats.

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