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I second that emotion

13 Mar 2020  |  Anna Sampson 
I second that emotion

As The Attention Council hosts its launch event, Magnetic's Anna Sampson looks at the growing movement to change advertising for the better

This week saw the very first Attention Council gathering - a bringing together of like-minded folk and the latest insight, in an effort to highlight the growing importance of this subject. It was great to see so many brains energised around the attention debate, the ‘attentionators’ as Dominic Mills referred to them in a recent column.

Lots of brilliant work is happening to measure attention, though eye-tracking, neuroscience and a better appreciation of relevant academic theory. A new book ‘The Attention Economy and How Media Works’ by Karen Nelson-field brings some of this together in one place and well worth a read.

Of all the latest thinking in this space, I am particularly drawn to the work of Orlando Wood of System1Research in his book ‘Lemon’, on how advertising has lost its power and what we can do to get it back. He places a lot of emphasis on emotion as the key to effective advertising with a strong case for advertising to re-orientate itself towards right brain messaging.

The team at Neuro-Insight have measured how advertising impacts the brain and recent work with us at Magnetic, reveals an important connection between right brain emotion, attention and effective advertising. This is because strong right brain responses are essentially a highly emotional reaction crucial for encoding information deep into memory, ready for recall at a later date.

The link between attention and emotion is key when looking at the role of media channel and creative, and how they can best work together. At Magnetic’s recent Spark conference Shazia Ginai, CEO of Neuro-Insight was keen to emphasise the importance of stories, "Our brains love stories, and TV and magazines are particularly good at that. With magazines they literally add colour to a brand."

Cultivating attention for the long-term leads to strong brand-orientated work and partnerships, an area that’s really thriving in magazines.

And attention really matters. In our 2019 report ‘Pay Attention’ a key observation was that despite there being more times and places where brands can capture the consumers attention, numerous studies show attention to advertising is declining.

Why? Because attention is a finite resource and we are in danger of over exploiting it. According to Farris Yakob we’ve created a kind of advertising dystopia where ‘every waking moment is explored and mined by media entities driven by the need for growth to get more of your attention and algorithms that learn how to hack it.’

At the recent ISBA conference an ‘Advertising experience MOT’ was launched to try and address the decline in public trust in advertising, so it’s clear that it’s an important issue for clients.

I for one am hoping the work of the ‘Attentionators’ can help to bring back effective emotion-driven campaigns that cultivate consumer attention.

It’s time to switch to right brain thinking.


Anna Sampson is Insight & Strategy Director, Magnetic

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07 Apr 2020 

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