Current Issue Summary
September 2022 (Vol. 62, Issue 3)
Can a Whisper Boost Recall of Video Advertisements? Exploring the Effects of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) in Advertising
ASMR, which emerged about a decade ago in YouTube soundscape videos, is increasingly used in video ads to heighten your experience with, for example, whispers that trigger tingling sensations. The physical manifestations triggered by ASMR stimuli—such as whispering, typing, tapping and chewing—have been described in the literature as “unique sensations of ‘head tingles’ or ‘brain orgasms’ (Anderson, 2015),” Sean Sands and Veronika Kadomskaia (both of Swinburne University of Technology), Colin Campbell (University of San Diego) and Alexis Mavrommatis (ESADE), write in this article. Previous research on advertising recall established that “the more information that is encoded about an object, the deeper and more elaborate the memory trace (Craik and Tulving, 1975). Thus, it would be reasonable to expect that an advertisement that elicits an ASMR response will enhance consumer memory for the advertisement.”
Across four studies, the researchers investigated the effects of ASMR, presenting existing ads at different lengths and contexts, and manipulating them only by varying the voiceover as either ASMR or normal. Study 1 presented a six-second McDonald’s ad embedded as a pre-roll to a 60-second video about making pancakes, either with ASMR voiceover or normal voiceover. Study 2 added two other ads—one for Coca-Cola and another for Extra Gum—but presented mid-roll and nested within a larger ad break. Study 3’s goal was to replicate the effects found in the first two studies but in a different advertising context (different ads, brands and lengths), and Study 4 investigated the process driving recall effects using a 45-second, stand-alone Ford ad.
Among the findings:
- ASMR ads can boost recall, which is mediated by the intensity of tingles experienced, immersion and narrative transportation.
- Because ASMR effects rely on the intensity of the experience, “ads that might not be viewed in environments that are conducive to tingle formation are likely a form of mistargeting.
- “This suggests that YouTube and other self-paced and individualized viewing platforms may perform better than broadcast television.”
- “The effects of ASMR also may benefit from the emergence of new advertisement formats, such as augmented reality and virtual reality, that more deeply immerse consumers in media.”