CMO Brief By The ARF

Written by Charles Young

Real time campaign feedback has changed the game for ad researchers. But today, there’s growing concern among marketers that this focus may be short-sighted. Brand building and creative quality are both long-term goals. The key is how to get advertising to stick in consumers’ memory. As such, understanding human memory better can help marketers fashion more impactful campaigns.

In this recent report, Charles Young—CEO and founder of Ameritest, an advertising research and brand-strategy consultancy, outlines a model of human memory and how it functions in a way that’s easily digestible and advantageous to marketers. Previous to this, he has published more than 200 articles in trade and peer- reviewed journals on branded memory and visual communication. Young in this piece likens the human memory to a computer. There are several levels he describes which include:

1.) Register/Consciousness: A small amount of fast memory. Bell Labs found that this type of memory can only hold an amount of information analogous to a seven- digit phone number, or the length of a six-second Facebook ad. This is top-of-mind brand awareness, or brand salience. If a consumer can spontaneously mention a brand when a category comes up, it shows the brand is on the person’s mental “short list.” This is the best predictor of share-of-market.

2.) Cache/Working Memory: This is where frequently requested information is stored
for high-speed access. In humans, it is where memory is deconstructed for transfer into long-term memory. This is aided brand awareness. It lasts only about 30 seconds, just enough time for your typical brand story ad. A consumer can recognize the brand from a list.

3.) Main Memory (RAM)/Recall: Searchable data organized according to category. In the brain, such recall takes effort. These are recollections organized by the semantic memory, retrieved through verbal recall. Words can help someone remember.

4.) Hard Drive/Deeper Level Memories: This is where gigabytes of information are stored. Such memories can only be recalled if the person is given a visual cue.

5.) Off-Site/Other people’s memories: Slow-to-access memories accessible with other people’s help. These are shared memories. This is where word-of-mouth or brand posts come in.

The most significant goal for brands is instilling top-of-mind awareness. Such awareness is behavioral and driven by what the person purchased last and by advertising. With the latter, creative quality is the most important aspect, research shows. Young compares the human memory to an iceberg. Top-of-mind awareness sticks out of the water. But this is built on the structures that float underneath. The whole of the iceberg is an aggregate from past experiences with a brand, including advertising. Past memories of ads and interacting with brands need to be leveraged for future advertising. That’s how to play the long game. Marketers are in the end memory makers.

Article: The Short and Long Advertising Game by Charles Young