Our brains are changing so marketing should too

New research from Yahoo shows that people are twice as likely to engage with native advertising on mobile and this is because the human brain is adapting to digest vast amounts of information.

Neuroscience consultant, Dr Jack Lewis, has been working with Yahoo to understand the role of the changing brain in today’s media environment.

At the IAB UK Digital Upfronts event yesterday (14 October) Lewis explains that consumers filter in and out information and focus on information that is relevant.

A simple point but one that can lead to wasted advertising spend if a consumer decided a brand’s content is irrelevant or at worse annoying.

Banner advertising is a case in point as there are some shocking examples of ads that flash, make noise and are generally an irritant, but for an advertiser it may have achieved the objective if being seen, by a human, and attracting attention.

What it doesn’t achieve is a positive emotional response. ‘Banner blindness’ is also an issue as brains filter out advertising formats over time.

Lewis says: “When you have your cunning new way of delivering adverts so they don’t get filtered out, it’s only good for 2-3 years because people change their habitual behaviours to filter out the rubbish and filter in the types of things that can help them in life.”

The doctor also explains the fundamentals behind a new term in neuroscience, neuroplasticity, which is the fact that your brains change to the environment that you interact with daily and consistently so anything consumers do with intensiveness and regularity will physically change their brain.

In the context of media and technology and combining what marketers should know in terms of consumer behaviour regarding annoying and irrelevant ads, content, platforms and formats become the most important aspects of any online campaigns.

Yahoo’s mobile native advertising study shows that 85% ‘visually engaged’ with an advert, meaning a user saw a native ad when presented in a content stream, which is 21% higher than on other types of display ads on mobile.

It also shows that over half (58%) of Yahoo users said that stream advertising is a better fit with content that other types of mobile advertising and 62% say it’s less intrusive.

It shows that native advertising is less intrusive and people don’t disregard it if it’s relevant to a content stream they are viewing anyway but what neuroplasticity throws in is an uncertainty to how long this format will be agreeable with consumers before brains start filtering them out.

This means that clever marketers will need to be constantly thinking about what’s next, rather than mastering a format like native that might be irrelevant in years to come.

Hide Comments1 Show Comment
  • Go Mobile, My Child! | QuestionPro Blog 28 Oct 2014 at 11:05 pm

    […] of the stories that we highlighted in our #FridayFive post had to do with findings from neuroscience and its effects on marketing. The findings don’t just affect marketing, […]

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here