Are you paying attention?

Media meshing - performing simultaneous tasks such as browsing the web via a laptop or mobile device while watching TV is now common place.

Many studies have tried to ascertain the levels at which we are paying attention while tuned to the TV and our ability to recall advertisements, to in some way measure their effectiveness.

A recent Nielsen report suggests that adverts shown during on-line sessions are more effective in raising brand awareness and message recall than their TV counterparts. By it's very nature more engaging and is referred to as ' lean forward ' - a more engaged user leads to higher attention and therefore greater recall right?

All wrong?

We seem to have research which is polarised around specific channels, but this does not take into account the typical 3 screen behaviour of the user and their subsequent recall of the messages they are receiving from 'all' of these sources.

It raises questions :

Are the tec savvy generation Y able to ' multi-task ' web browsing, email and IM while watching TV - does this diversion dilute TV's (and these other channels) advertising effectiveness?


I could find no find no direct research associated to users who were in the midst of three screen activity and their subsequent ability to recall brands. However two studies from Stanford University and the Journal of advertising research could hold some of the answers.


100 participants in the study showed that this constant 'multitasking' switching lead to being unable to filter irrelevancy and keep separation of information, with it's effects compounding over time.

The study focused on more analytical memory recall objectives, the nature of TV's passive and sometimes unconscious consumption by consumers would I suspect 'soften' these findings.

However the main thrust of the study remains the same - in order to maximise attention, reduce the number of tasks that are being performed.

Pay less attention - advertising becomes more effective

At the opposite end of the scale it is suggested that being distracted when at least performing passive tasks such as watching TV is a good thing. When focused on this task we tend to raise barriers and filter information for relevance, which is in-line with the research from Standford. However by performing other tasks we drop these barriers as our focus is drawn elsewhere, effectively allowing these messages through.

Changes in measurement

With 3 screens now the norm, evaluation of how effective advertising is on the consumer can no longer be conducted in isolation and needs to have these other influences introduced to give us a true refection of recall, effectiveness and awareness.

So, is more focus the key to more effective advertising?

Or is multitasking allowing these messages through....


Advertising : the 7 sins of memory
Pay less attention - more effective advertising
Online video - more effective than TV

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