The study, which analyses eye movement and subliminal emotional response, found that the M&S X-Factor themed Christmas ad had the greatest impact on audiences during the live final.
The minute-long ad, which featured the finalists singing “When You Wish upon a Star”, was the most popular and had the most positive responses. KFC was the second most popular ad.
Advertisers including Estée Lauder, HMV, Currys/PC World, M&S, paid up to £8,000 per second to advertise during the final. The show, however, has seen its audience numbers slipping and last weekend’s final registered average audience of 11.3 million – 4 million down from last year, according to unofficial figures.
Guy Redwood, MD of SimpleUsability, which carried out the research, says: “M&S generated the right mix of emotions in the final thirty seconds as opposed to KFC’s, which peaked too soon amongst the demographic, leading to a long and slow drop in positive emotions and allowing negative emotions to creep in.”
The research agency used an unobtrusive electroencephalograph (EEG) headset to monitor brain activity and reveal levels of engagement, excitement and frustration as volunteers watched the show.
Their eye movements were also tracked to provide a correlation between what they saw onscreen and their emotional response.
All volunteers were regular X-Factor viewers between 18 and 25.