Why Does Advertising Work? Disney Explores

Why Does Advertising Work? Disney Explores

The Disney Media and Advertising laboratory turns to scientific practice to isolate the key variables in creating the ultimate audience experience.

Stephen Fortune
  • 9 march 2011

One consequence of the increasing shift to digital content delivery is that the old gauges for success are becoming inconsequential. What is becoming increasingly key are guaranteed means to connect with your audience.

The Disney Media and Advertising Lab in Austin Texas uses rigorous means to provide those guarantees. The ethos is hard science and Cisco and Disney favour the lab setting because it allows them an unprecedented level of control.

“To get to the ‘why’ you need to be able to control things, and the only way to do that is within a lab environment.”

The laboratory setting also allows nascent products, such as 3DTV, to be studied in an in depth manner. Currently the lab uses a number of biometric methods that completely eschew the viewer survey as a reliable measurement tool:

“Among the tools used are eye-gaze tracking, heart rate, skin conductivity. That information gives insight into their reactions that surveys couldn’t capture. “

To date the the Ad Lab has done more than 70 studies on topics including standard-def. vs. HD advertising and viewer reactions to content on different sized screens. They have also tested integration methods aimed to thwart DVR skipping of advertised content:

“We’d test an integration on its own, we’d test 30-second spots on their own, and both together,” Seymour says. We found the combination was most effective. The live ad conditions the person, so when the commercials play, they’re more engaged and you get that more impactful effect of the combination.

What do you think: Is a tightly controlled laboratory environment the best way to analyse the “whys” of advertising, or does this method fail to capture crucial aspects of the audience experience?


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Image by Customs

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