How good is a good ad? Cognitive load holds the key

David Ogilvy once said: “Never stop testing and your advertising will never stop improving”.

Mar 20, 2019

By Abigail Mayhew

Read the full article in Campaign here.

“Our industry has created some brilliant ads over the year but we often don’t know how those ads will be received until they’re out in the public domain.

Some of the ads we consider to be the greatest have very low brand recall, so how effectively does this creative perform in the real world?

Everyone interprets creativity in their own way, and testing helps us to understand whether a creative idea will fly, or fall flat, in the eyes of consumers. But it’s the kind of testing you do that counts.

According to George Bernard Shaw, “the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”. This is an issue so many creatives fail to confront when producing ads. Simply put, the way we say or communicate something isn’t necessarily how it will be deciphered by the consumer.

While the importance of studying the human brain has always been crucial in adland, there isn’t always total agreement on how we can best understand it.

Our brains are incredibly lazy organs – they have to be, they are a massive energy drain on our bodies. But time and again we expect people to engage with incredibly complex content and ideas. The challenge is in creating work that is cognitively engaging but still manages to hero the creative idea.”