In the vast world of digital advertising, we’re faced with a persistent challenge–people’s attention spans are fleeting, and there’s fierce competition for every moment of their focus.

To make sense of this, let’s explore a fundamental question: What makes our brains stop and pay attention to some ads while we effortlessly scroll past others?

The answer to this question is a mix of factors: things like emotional appeal, relevance, and relatability, among others. But here’s the catch – these factors come into play only after you’ve successfully grabbed the user’s attention.

So, how do you stop that endless scrolling? Well, there’s one powerful tool in behavioral psychology’s toolbox: “novelty.” When we stumble upon something unexpected, it leaves a lasting impression in our memory.

In this blog, we’ll dive into the fascinating world of behavioral psychology and share actionable insights to craft ads that truly resonate with your audience.

The art of surprise: Novelty’s role in unforgettable ads

Imagine this: you’re casually scrolling through social media, lost in a sea of videos. Out of the blue, an ad catches your attention, but it’s not the usual flashy stuff. Instead, it’s just the sound of rain pouring.

You can’t help but pause and close your eyes, tuning in to the calming raindrops. Then, a gentle voice chimes in, saying, “Life can get overwhelming. Sometimes, all you need is a moment of calm.”

Surprisingly, it’s an ad for a meditation app. It’s a clever and impactful way to capture your attention and deliver a message of peace and mindfulness in an unconventional manner.

When we encounter something that deviates from our expectations, it leaves a more profound and lasting impression on our memory.

This is why advertisers who are the first to market with a new ad format or creative direction see higher conversions and return on ad spend (ROAS). They spark curiosity, trigger emotions, and inspire action.

DCO ads

Source: RevX

Formats like DCO Ads and Hybrid Ads are a testament to this:

  • DCO ads: Dynamic creative optimization (DCO) ad marries product-feed personalization with creative scale enabling personalization for every stage of the user journey.
  • Hybrid ads combine the power of video and the simplicity of banners all in one. They seamlessly merge multiple file types (static, video, audio, and animation elements), creating dynamic ads that stand out from the rest.

Hybrid ads

Click on image for full size

Source: RevX

Self-determination theory

The art of surprise and novelty plays a pivotal role in creating memorable ads. However, this goes beyond just grabbing attention; it also taps into a deeper realm of human psychology.

One prime illustration of this is the self-determination theory.

It emphasizes how the three human needs, ‘competence, autonomy, and relatedness’, which when met, act as powerful intrinsic motivators. Start with two fundamental questions: what makes them install, and what makes them stay?

For example, within the gaming context, the former could be for stress relief, entertainment, escapism, or social connection. The latter motivations are often rooted in the need to experience competence, autonomy, a sense of accomplishment, and belonging.

Here are some ways you can incorporate self-determination theory in your ads.

Relatedness-themed messaging

  • “Your team needs you”
  • Copy: “Your squad awaits your heroic return! Join now!”
  • Visual: Show a player receiving messages from their in-game team and friends, showing how much they’re missed and needed for an upcoming challenge. Highlight the social validation aspect of being an essential team member.

Competence-themed messaging

  • “Only the top 3 percentile”
  • Copy: Join the elite few: You were among the top three percentile. We need you back!
  • Visual: Put their in-game character in the spotlight, surrounded by the glowing achievements they have unlocked. Overlay heartfelt messages from fellow gamers, all eagerly awaiting your return. It’s a reminder of their competence and all that they could be.

Autonomy-themed messaging

  • Copy: “Craft your fantasy world: Every choice shapes your epic journey!”
  • Visual: Show a player immersed in a captivating game world, surrounded by fantastical landscapes and creatures.
  • Highlight the player’s ability to build this world through their choices. With each choice they make, the world around them responds in real-time. As they decide to build towering kingdoms, fortified fortresses, or form powerful alliances, you see the landscape transform accordingly.
  • You can take it a step ahead and build an interactive playable ad. What better way to show autonomy than to let your users take control?

In conclusion

In a world flooded with stimuli, where grabbing user attention is a daily battle, the magic of novelty often remains untapped by many brands. Use this as your competitive advantage to make your ads stand out, be remembered, and truly shine.

Our Creative Innovation Guide is packed with more such insights. Claim your copy here.