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Cutting Through the Clutter 5 Characteristics of Winning TV Ads

1 minute read | August 2012

With 38 ads on average airing per minute across national TV*, breaking through the clutter is essential. According to a recent analysis from Nielsen, there are five common characteristics of TV ads that resonate with consumers.

The top-five characteristics for ads that scored highly on “breakthrough,” an ad’s memorability, per consumers, are:

  • Audience-Appropriate Humor – Tickling America’s funny bone is a proven winning tactic for making an ad memorable.
  • Relatable Characters & Situations – Audiences will connect with personalities and scenarios with whom they can identify.
  • Simple & Upbeat Storyline – Ads should do more than convey information– they should tell a story.
  • Character Dialogue to Tell a Story – Changing a message from simple prose to a conversation will give the story life.
  • Build an Emotional Connection – The brain identifies an emotional experience as important enough to remember,  which in turn resonates with the audience.

“The ability to create a true winning commercial is an undeniable art form, but there’s science behind it too,” said Joe Stagaman, EVP, Advertising Effectiveness Analytics for Nielsen. “Recent Nielsen research has found that nothing helps consumers feel connected to an ad like a good laugh, tugging at the heart strings or connecting with them on a personal level.”


As the leading provider of in-depth analysis and advertising effectiveness insights, Nielsen provides comprehensive insight into a commercial’s ability to achieve breakthrough and attitudinal metrics. Breakthrough reflects how memorable an ad was, and is available through Nielsen TV Brand Effect, which measures the impact of commercials by surveying viewers exposed to the ad on TV.

*Ad units calculated based on Monitor-Plus’ universe of national television distributors (Broadcast, Cable, Syndication, Spanish Language Network, and Spanish Language Cable)

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