What makes a reader look at a news article for more than a few seconds before moving on to the next? What draws a reader in for long enough to remember a brand in a news article?
If someone exposed to a news article doesn’t remember your brand, the journey stops there. If a reader doesn’t recall a brand in an article, then the content in that article doesn’t have an opportunity to influence perceptions or shift behavior. It doesn’t matter if it includes key messages that build brand trust or recommendations from credible influencers if the reader doesn’t remember the brand.
While there are multiple measurement factors in a Media Impact Index, one important aspect is article quality. And quality should include factors of recall. This is the first step on a customer journey that can shape attitudes and perceptions and lead to desired behaviors.
Here are three factors that research has shown can lead to brand recall when a reader is exposed to news content:
- Prominent mentions
This one is probably the most intuitive — if a brand is mentioned in the headline or first paragraph of an article, a reader is more likely to remember the brand than if it only receives a brief mention at the end.
Prominence is a combination of brand placement and the number of mentions within the article. A reader is more likely to remember a brand with 10 mentions in an article than one. That’s because the human brain remembers things we’re exposed to more frequently or for a longer amount of time.
In a study I contributed to on recall, I found that headline mentions and multiple brand mentions both lead to greater brand recall. Just one word of caution: while a branded feature article might feel like a total win, readers are often turned off by overtly branded content that feels paid. A more subtly inserted brand mention that ties into another useful topic will likely lead to more eyes staying on the content (see factor 3).
2. Branded visuals
We’ve all heard the adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Research has found this be true —visuals influence recall significantly more than other elements such as headline mentions or multiple brand mentions. A research study on recall found that visuals had a t-value of 7.78, compared to a 2.4 for headlines and multiple mentions — a more than 200%greater impact for visuals.
If an article has a branded visual a reader is more likely to remember the brand. But are all branded visuals created equal? Visuals with a human element increase article engagement, and the more time readers spend engaged means more recall. So, the best visual for recall would be a branded visual with a human element, such as a person applying lotion or holding a laptop.
3. Helpful content
Some content doesn’t even register on the recall scale because readers turn away before they even get to the brand mention. Readers engage most with how-to and advice-style articles — articles that help them, make their lives better, or answer a question. Readers engage least with articles about sales or finance. Readers seek information and knowledge packaged in a form that can help them, and don’t like feeling like they’re being sold to. They like to feel like empowered actors when seeking information — even if that information is strategically presented.
One approach to creating helpful content is to think about a question your audience would type into Google, then come up with content that answers that question (and ideally includes a brand mention, in context). For example, in skincare, a reader might ask: “How do I get rid of wrinkles?” Or in health care, a reader might ask: “How can I create a healthier gut?” These questions can be answered with how-to or advice-style articles that engage readers and lead to more brand recall.
These three factors can all boost the likelihood of a reader remembering your brand. They can also be included in a custom media impact index for your brand, to measure success and identify areas to improve the potential impact of content and make it more memorable.
Angela Dwyer is head of insights at Fullintel.