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Neuropsychological Insights on Online Communication - A Literature Study

A study of effective attention to and engagement with (online) advertising and communication

Online communication is essential for creating awareness and impact on behaviour nowadays, especially due to its flexibility and targetability. However, a disadvantage is that attention on social media is often superficial and fragmented. This decreases awareness or behavioural change. In an environment where users scroll mindlessly, it is difficult to leave an impactful impression. For effective impact and sustainable behavioural change, paying attention to advertisements is necessary before the target group takes on the message and puts it into practice.

Open Now is an advertising agency that strives to make an impact with creative campaigns based on behavioural science. The degree of impact depends, among other things, on the amount of attention campaign receives. And when there is attention, it does not necessarily mean that the message is received correctly, that people believe the message or that it has an impact on the future behaviour. In addition to attention, one can also look at the engagement with advertisements, for example feelings that arise or the extent to which people think about the stimulus later.

“Before consumers can be affected by advertising messages, they need to first be paying attention.”

Attention and commitment can complement each other. The difference is that attention is often cognitive while engagement is a more affective process. The importance of these constructs depends on the communication goal. Do you want to communicate rational information – such as news or web addresses – and ensure that people remember this information? Then attention is important, as it supports information processing. Do you want to create a strong bond with a brand or organization? Then commitment is important. Do you want to work on both a strong emotional bond and good information processing and understanding? Then you need both attention and engagement. Can't achieve either of them? Then you may be wasting a lot of money.

“The power of marketing is eroding... from lack of attention.”

This research therefore focuses on how insights from (cognitive) psychology can contribute to optimizing online communication in terms of attention and engagement. It describes the workings of information processing from both cognitive and affective perspectives. Subsequently, differences in online communication are described for different target groups and media channels. The report concludes with recommendations for Open Now for optimizing online communication to achieve more impact.

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