Neuroscience Tools for Better Tune-In Promos and More

In your Psych 101 class (or when you started to create PowerPoint presentations), you learned to reinforce messages by coordinating visual and verbal ingredients.  In the neuroscience course, which you probably didn’t take, you would learn how to boost that eye/ear reinforcement even further via “brain synchronization.”
So if you got a job in advertising or promotion, you’d use a tool to optimize the simultaneous impact. Cable networks including TNT, AMC Networks, HBO and We, along with ABC News and NBC News have been quietly testing “SyncSense,” a software tool that makes sure the synchronization is instant. Even a 1/10th- second delay can reduce the impact, says Daniel Fischer, a co-founder of the eponymous company.
Moreover, SyncScore – a measurement system that is part of the company’s service – tracks message recognition.  In a project for AMC, SyncScore identified an uptick of 17% to 36% in recall levels for synched promotions within the 25 to 54 year old age bracket; the major variable was the placement of a synched message within an advertising pod.
Initially, SyncSense is concentrating on tune-in promotions, including on-network video messages as well as program intro segments; those few moments at the top of the hour are crucial attention-getting opportunities while viewers are surfing around to choose a show to watch.
“It improves audience retention during breaks,” Fischer emphasizes, focusing on the company’s primary selling point: retaining viewers.

Tightly coordinating voice/text messages are already a fundamental part of commercials, especially direct response and infomercials.   Fischer, an alumnus of Nielsen, Discovery and Warner Cable, believes that the neural connections can also be used in reality programs, movies, dramas and short-form videos, such as the fast-evolving online video sector.

He and his colleagues, who include John Ford (formerly of Discovery and National Geographic Channel) and Charlene Weisler (an ex-AMC executive),  acknowledge the challenge of introducing a new production tool to advertisers and TV promotion departments that have an established format for producing their video materials.  SyncSense is emphasizing the measurement factor, which is at the core of its own revenue model.
The system has been used on more than 80 shows, ranging from HBO’s “Real Sports” to NBC Nightly News.  SyncScore ratings (developed in collaboration with Nielsen data) show that tightly synched voice/text delivery increases full-show ratings by at least 2.8% and up to 7.4% in the youngest – and most fidgety – age brackets. Fischer and his team are promoting these viewership bumps as a way to drive viewers “more efficiently from promos to programs,” which leads to improved Nielsen results and higher ad rates, as he repeatedly points out. 
The company’s patent-pending technology optimizes brain sync, which in turn increases attention.  SyncSense is also exploring other multi-input factors that can increase viewer attention, such as the context of on-screen messages.  Included in this dimension are color, movement, luminance, shapes, patterns and even what Fischer calls “gestalt criteria.”   Collectively, these ingredients can be used in various combinations to trigger those neural sensors that reinforce video messages.
Plug that into your brain next time you’re looking for something to watch.

Contributor Gary Arlen is known for his insights into the convergence of media, telecom, content and technology. Gary was founder/editor/publisher of Interactivity Report, TeleServices Report and other influential newsletters; he was the longtime “curmudgeon” columnist for Multichannel News as well as a regular contributor to AdMap, Washington Technology and Telecommunications Reports. He writes regularly about trends and media/marketing for the Consumer Technology Association's i3 magazine plus several blogs. Gary has taught media-focused courses on the adjunct faculties at George Mason University and American University and has guest-lectured at MIT, Harvard, UCLA, University of Southern California and Northwestern University and at countless media, marketing and technology industry events. As President of Arlen Communications LLC, he has provided analyses about the development of applications and services for entertainment, marketing and e-commerce.