Intensity as the Third Dimension

April 26, 2018

By Jason Molina, Sara Grimaldi, Mukta Chowdhary

Courtesy of Fullscreen

Reach and frequency — these are the industry's comfort metrics. Unfortunately, when things get too comfortable, we get stuck. As an industry, we've been stuck in an old-school way of measuring a new frontier of entertainment that is moving outside of our living rooms and into our hands. Year over year, we see mass media dwindle as people have not only more choice about what they want to watch, but also where, when, and how they watch it.

Gone are the days of constantly hammering brand messaging without consumers skipping, avoiding, and tuning it all out. However, branded content provides an opportunity for creativity and connection — this is where today's hyper-aware consumers are open to actively listening to brands.

It's a fan-first market, and at Fullscreen, we were curious to see how different types of branded content were really measuring up against each other. In late 2017, we conducted a study to figure out how branded influencer content impacts viewers compared to traditional advertising tactics.

However, we changed things up to challenge the current state of advertising metrics by introducing another dimension to the mix — INTENSITY. We define intensity as a blend of attention, engagement, and emotion. To test our hypotheses and better understand the mechanics of intensity, we partnered with consumer neuroscience research firm MediaScience in part two of our Fullscreen Confidential research series (part one was a macro-level research view on gen Z and millennial media consumption habits and perspectives).

In this study, we invited 128 participants aged 13-24 to help us get a more micro view of how intensity reveals itself in a lab setting, across content formats, and between generations. Participants were put into simulated living rooms, complete with all the tools necessary to help us track participants' reactions and attention: TVs, mobile devices, HD facial coding cameras, eye tracking, and biometric equipment. With access to these measurement tools, we were able to deeply understand how consumers engage with and are affected by different types of content, rather than relying on just traditional viewership metrics.

After viewing multiple formats of branded content — branded YouTube influencer videos, YouTube pre-roll ads, TV spots within a 30-minute episode of a popular TV series — participants took the survey in a separate area with a desktop PC.

To further contextualize our study, we tapped into our proprietary fan panel, TBH, and surveyed 200 participants aged 18-34 about their connection to traditional and new advertising formats.

A few of the burning questions we set out to answer included:

  • How does intensity (attention, engagement and emotional connection) compare across ad formats, both traditional (e.g. pre-roll) and non-traditional (e.g. influencer branded content)?
  • Do certain ad formats drive more attention and engagement than others?
  • Is the perception or recall of brands more favorable when experienced in some content formats than others?
  • How do results vary by age group (13-19 v. 20-24)?

Here's what we learned:

@ATTENTION: Eyes Wide Open for Digital Creators

Digital creators are intensely capturing the attention of their super-processor gen Z and millennial counterparts, and considerably more than advertising without digital creators. While viewing branded influencer videos on YouTube, participants had their eyes glued to their screens 93 percent of the time — 30 percent higher than the time looked at branded pre-roll ads on the same platform (71 percent).


@ENGAGEMENT: Breaking the Code of Brand Recall

Even before the Don Draper advertising days, brands have experimented with the art and science of brand recall. From our research, we found that TV ads are still powerful in terms of brand recall with a 21.9 percent recall rate. Digital creators are not far behind despite how new they are to the scene (14.3 percent) and having longer content. Creators inherently get the power of emotional storytelling and know how to authentically connect to their audiences.


@EMOTION: Brand Love Is Contagious When It Comes to Emotion-Driven Storytelling

Branded influencer YouTube videos consistently outperformed all other advertising formats in terms of brand connection KPIs. For example, the percentage of viewers who would recommend a brand after watching a branded video from an influencer was 13 percent higher than a TV ad.



In the cluttered entertainment landscape, brands need to drive real impact by creating content that emotionally connects and drives intensity. Here are some of our practicing guidelines:

  • Intensity matters regardless of the content's environment or its format. To make an impact, content must capture our attention, drive us to engage, and connect with us emotionally.
  • Digital creators have broken the code for authentic connection — they get their fans, they program for them, and they intensely capture their attention.
  • Emotional storytelling is the only way to break through the noise and has been linked to higher impact KPIs for brands.


For more information, contact Sara Grimaldi, senior director of measurement and insights at or Jason Molina, director of engagement planning and strategy at


The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

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