Want a successful Super Bowl ad? Don't make people think

February 4, 2019 by Prasad Naik, University of California
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

What makes TV ads most likable? UC Davis marketing professor Prasad Naik says those that tell a story and don't make you think.

Drawing on psycholinguistic research, Naik studied viewers' Facebook comments about Super Bowl TV ads to find out if it was distracting when ads encouraged consumers to interact on . Ads with a narrative storyline were considered more likable. "That makes the advertising more persuasive," Naik says.

Super Bowl TV ads can reach up to 100+ mil. global viewers. Millions more comment on the ads on social media. TV ads that make viewers think are generally less likable. Especially, when consumers are encouraged to share comments on websites and social media. UC Davis marketing professor Prasad Naik wanted to find out why.

"There is a tendency in the industry at this point that we should direct the television audience to their website to do something more. The moment you direct them they get away from this narrative mode," Naik explains.

Professor Naik's research team studied the effects of cross media consumption from a database of interactions of audiences watching Super Bowl ads while on their smartphones.

Credit: UC Davis Graduate School of Management

They wanted to know if it was distracting when TV ads sent to social . They took the likability results from USA Today's Ad meter from the 2015 Super Bowl. They also tracked comments written about the ad on Facebook. They drew on psycholinguistic research to categorize the comments under three styles: formal, analytic and narrative.

"The moment the consumer or the viewer gets into a cognitive mode he starts thinking and thinking usually entails looking at that object in multiple ways," Naik says. "That creates counter argument. You want to reduce counter arguments and that makes advertising persuasive."

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