By Hoa Tong, Experiential Creative Director
In the world of branding, marketing, and advertising today, nothing makes heads turn (or roll) more than a conversation about audience retention.
“What’s the recall rate on that multi-million dollar TV ad campaign?”
“What’s the retention on that radio ad?”
“Did people remember our last billboard campaign?”
“How about the social media banners that went along with them?”
“What about the print ads?”
We all know that the list for recall can go on and on about the most effective forms of media today to create brand awareness, sell more products and services, and/or communicate key messages, but there are some principles to consider.
The Experience is Everything
One of the most powerful aspects about experiential design is that it is a discipline geared toward the audience experience and the experience is everything. The focus in the design world is now heavily on the user (UX) and customer (CX) experience and experiential design always starts with the audience. Why? Because nothing helps people understand and retain information better than when they experience it.
We’ve all had that childhood experience where our parents told us not to touch the fire because it’s hot. In our childhood brains, that didn’t mean anything so we proceed to touch the flame and then the “Aha!” moment happens. We begin to understand the concept of what’s “hot” because of the searing pain now shooting through our fingertips. It’s an experience we will not forget and have probably recalled it countless times when being around fire in our adulthood. This simple illustration reveals the potential of experiential design and when done effectively, it can help audiences highly retain the intended key messages conveyed.
The Method Matters
The field of experiential design is very large. It can encompass visuals, environments, messaging, and multi-sensory applications (sight, sound, touch, etc.). All these things are the expressions of experiential design, but the method of executing it matters. I’t’s been recently discovered that storytelling as a method for retention works very well. People tend to understand and remember key messages through stories better than facts and figures* and according to authors Chip and Dan Heath, 63% of audiences after a presentation remember the stories and only 5% remember the facts and figures.
Brain science is beginning to see the correlation between narratives, experience, and emotions. ** In other words, stories are experiential and touch our hearts. The way something makes us feel is just a powerful, if not more for recall as the important facts that we have learned. As the famed poet Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
The Media Makes A Difference
We have already established how the power of an experience and how storytelling as a method helps in audience retention. It’s also important to understand that certain mediums of showcasing that experience work better than others. In a sample study done by Nielsen, digital signage has proven effective in audience retention over other types of media. Compare these recall rates as reported by Nielsen***:
- Online Banners, 3 percent
- Magazines, 21 percent
- Radio, 27 percent
- Billboards, 30 percent
- Television, 32 percent
- Digital signage, 52 percent
Using digital signage, whether touch interactive or non-interactive, as a single display or video wall greatly increases customer recall at 52% in comparison to TV 32%, Radio 27%, Billboards 30%, and even magazine print ads 21%. If audience retention is the goal, the choice of media used will have a crucial part in it.
At Array, as an experiential design agency, we can attest to the effectiveness of using digital signage for great audience retention. When we were tasked to design an experience for the world champion San Francisco Giants at their AT&T ballpark, we knew that the best way to convey the franchise message that “Anyone could be Giant” was to involve sports fan interactions on social media using digital signage at their home games. The experience was a great success causing buzz and instant recall by the fans. It was one rung on the ladder to help the Giants reach their goal of being the most social team in professional baseball.****
To view the San Francisco Giants experience: http://arrayinteractive.com/index.php/2016/06/21/anyone-can-be-giant/
In summary, when it comes to audience retention, we can confirm that people most often recall experiences that made them feel something, the use of storytelling as a method matters, and digital signage can be a highly effective tool to make a difference. Experiential design as a rising discipline helps bring all these components together into a single well-designed experience – one that can help audiences retain more what they experienced. And in the end, the experience is everything,