How to create an ad on YouTube by leveraging neuroscience? Google Masterclass Recap

May 22, 2024
A brain lit up with circuits and a hand on the left side with a phone which has YouTube logo on it
Nandini Agarwal
Written by

Nandini Agarwal

Content Marketer

In a thrilling first, we partnered with Google to host a captivating masterclass delving into the intriguing realm of attention. Picture the vibrant atmosphere of the Amsterdam Google office, teeming with enthusiastic minds eager to explore the topic. We handpicked a diverse mix of guests, including our esteemed clients, past clients, and a sprinkle of connections from our network. Google's dynamic sales team also brought along their own squad, adding to the excitement. With 30+ attendees representing industry giants like Uber, Heineken, and Vodafone, the energy was palpable. The atmosphere was lively as attendees eagerly posed questions during the event. Afterwards, the networking session buzzed with energy as ideas flowed and connections were made. 

Founder of, Coen Olde Olthof, captured the room's attention with his insightful presentation, offering valuable insights into attention dynamics. For those who missed out, fear not! This blog provides a comprehensive overview of the presentation. Coen structured his talk into four key sections:

  • How attention works: uncovering the biology behind it
  • Leveraging attention in advertising
  • Insights gained from our experience in predictive attention
  • What is next in store?

How does attention work? 

Starting from understanding how attention works, we will have to look inside our brains. Our eyes play a crucial role as the main gateway to our attention. When we pay attention to something, it's registered at the back of our eye in a specialized area called the Fovea. This region is packed with neurons that specifically register what we're looking at. Imagine the Fovea as a spotlight – whatever it shines on directly appears sharp, while things on the periphery are less clear.

Now, let's journey to the back of the brain, where the visual cortex resides. This area works independently from our conscious control, forming its own perceptions. Think of it like a movie director behind the scenes, creating the visual experience without our direct input. 

Image 1

Have you ever seen an optical illusion? That's a prime example of the visual cortex at work, processing information in a consistent manner across all humans, regardless of cultural differences. For instance, look at the two images below. In the image where you can see strawberries, put your palm on the screen hiding those strawberries, and just focus on the color that is shown below the strawberries. You will see that the color of image 3 matches the color of image 2 but when the strawberries are visible, then the bottom color changes from grey to red. This is an optical illusion showing how the brain gets fooled once it starts making an unconscious connection between the color red with strawberries.

Image 2

Image 3

But wait, there's more! Enter the Fusiform Gyrus, responsible for recognizing faces. This can be both a boon and a bane for advertisers. Placing a face next to a brand logo might draw more attention to the face itself. However, if the face is looking directly at the logo, viewers are more likely to focus on the logo first. For example, can you spot the difference in the heatmap of the two images of Duracell below? The face where the eyes are looking at the brand name shows more attention to the logo compared to the face which is looking ahead. 

Image 4

In conclusion, the entire process of attention perception is subconscious and automatic. Our brains automatically process information, which then moves to higher brain areas for more conscious processing. Understanding these mechanisms can help marketers craft more effective advertising strategies that capture and hold viewers' attention.

Coming to another important brain function: cognitive processing! Our brain tries to jump to conclusions because it needs to conserve energy. A complex task or image can deplete the energy storage causing cognitive load. Our brain compensates for this by fluctuating across different attentional states throughout the day. The graph below can give you a visual representation of these attentional states.  

Image 5

The “rote” attentional state is mechanical and routine. This type uses fewer cognitive resources. The “focus” state is when people feel absorbed in the activity which requires some degree of challenge to a person’s skill set. The “bored” state underuses available cognitive resources. Boring activities don’t provide much stimulation, making it difficult to concentrate on the activity. Lastly, the “frustrated” state can cause cognitive load because people feel challenged but that challenge does not interest them. 

Now that you have a basic idea of how attention works and the biology behind it, let’s move on to how you could use this attention to your benefit in advertising. 

Leveraging attention in advertising

Are your ads not hitting the mark? There could be several reasons why they're not resonating with your audience. Perhaps they're not cutting through the noise, or maybe people simply aren't paying attention. Worse yet, they might not even recall your brand.

If your brand is unseen, then it is unsold. A useful mantra for your next advertising campaign. To succeed in attention advertising one must consider these three key factors: Ad Breakthrough, Brand Attention, and Cognitive Ease. These drivers play a crucial role in determining the success of your ads.

Ad Breakthrough shows how well is your ad able to stand out amongst a pool of distractors. Brand Attention, as the name suggests, shows how much attention people are paying to your brand name and logo in your ad and lastly, Cognitive Ease is how easy it is for your viewers to process your ad. The image below gives a good understanding of how small tweaks in your ad can make a huge difference, if the three key factors are kept in mind. 

Image 6

Many brands are now investing in predicting attention, some of the leading brands being: TVision, Lumen, Amplified Intelligence, The Attention Council, Dentsu, Playground XYZ, Teads, and Junbi. There is not one single approach of how they all work, but historically, they have relied on camera-based processing to analyze large groups of people through webcams, mobile devices, or TVs, to understand what captures attention and what doesn't.

But is this approach scientifically sound? It is working towards it! The real problem is that not a lot of scientific papers have been published on attention prediction. There are a few which gives a strong scientific accuracy of how reliable attention prediction platforms are. One such whitepaper has been published by, you can access it here.

Eye tracking real testing can be a real hassle – it's expensive and time-consuming. That's why we've developed a predictive model at Junbi. Instead of testing on people, we've leveraged 10 years of data collection in eye-tracking research and computer vision to create a solution that's quick and efficient.

So, how does Junbi work? It's simple! With just a few clicks, you can drag and drop your content, select the brand and the environment, choose the ad type (with guidance), and get results in as little as 5 minutes. It's a hassle-free way to optimize your advertising efforts. The results are based on the three key metrics described above (Ad Breakthrough, Brand Attention, and Cognitive Ease)

If you do decide to use these metrics, where should you integrate them? None other than your creative and media strategies. By incorporating attention prediction into these areas, you can make sure that your ads draw attention.

Moving on to what we have learned in all these years about effective advertising, this next section could be used as a checklist for your future ad campaigns.

What we learned

We've discovered some fascinating insights into capturing attention in advertising. Take, for example, Ken Burns, the renowned documentary filmmaker known for his slow zooming technique. Even Netflix has adopted this method because when you zoom in slowly, it grabs viewers' attention, whereas zooming out can cause disengagement.

Using stories or narratives, even short ones, can also maintain attention levels. Particularly, stories with elements of novelty, fun, or educational value tend to perform exceptionally well, resulting in higher engagement levels.

Conceptual closure is another powerful tool in advertising. Signaling the brain at the end of an ad that the story has concluded helps leave a lasting impression.

Integrating the product into the ad and making it visible and credible is crucial. Ensuring the brand is prominently seen within milliseconds (just 100!) can make all the difference. Clarity, contrast, and low cognitive load are essential for an effective ad, as are distinctive assets and familiarity.

Keeping the viewer's attention requires careful consideration. Avoiding too many scene changes or messages, ensuring the brand is both present and seen (but not too short!), and steering clear of triggers for other brands are all important factors.

It's essential not to overestimate the explicit content of an ad. While storytelling is powerful, it's crucial not to assume that everyone will connect with it.

Additionally, understanding the platform and its characteristics is vital. Ads have the most impact in trusted environments and work best when tailored to the platform's length ratio. Self-selected environments tend to retain more attention, and good ads can amplify these effects.

In the realm of mobile advertising, contextual ads that offer helpful information and interaction can significantly boost attention.

Despite appearances, people aren't necessarily distracted; they're simply switching attention. That's where Junbi comes in, measuring the subconscious part of the brain to determine whether an ad has broken through, captured attention for the brand, and provided cognitive ease. These insights are invaluable for crafting effective advertising strategies that truly resonate with audiences.


As we wrap up our exploration of attention and its role in advertising, let's take a moment to reflect on what we've learned. Understanding how our brains pay attention can unlock powerful strategies for creating ads that grab people's interest. 

As you keep working in advertising, remember how important it is to understand what makes people notice things without even realizing it. Whether you're telling stories, making sure your brand is part of the ad, or using tools like Junbi, there are lots of ways to make ads that get attention.

So, as you go forward in your advertising work with what you've learned here, don't be afraid to try new things and be creative. Let your curiosity guide you, and may every ad you make be a good example of how to get people's attention.

Here's to a future where advertising is smart, connects with people, and really stands out. Cheers to the exciting times ahead, full of new ideas and possibilities!

Related Articles
A brain lit up with circuits and a hand on the left side with a phone which has YouTube logo on it

How to create an ad on YouTube by leveraging neuroscience? Google Masterclass Recap

Discover how attention works in the brain to craft captivating ads. Gain insights from our Google Masterclass event and elevate your strategy!

A woman sitting in front of her computer, distracted with her phone

Duration-Based Attention Metrics: A Siren Song for Marketers?

Skip the Long Ads! Quality over Quantity for Attention Marketing. Learn how to craft impactful ads that resonate & ditch misleading duration metrics.

A mother with her two kids standing at a grocery store, all confused what to buy because of too many options

Understanding Hick’s Law: How Can You Make Users Decide Quickly?

Want to make your customers buy faster? Hick’s Law can help you with that. Learn all about it with examples of big brands applying it.


Subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

Stay ahead of the competition with a monthly summary of our top articles and new scientific research.