Neuroscience Research Establishes Linkage Between DOOH Ads And Social Media Campaigns

March 23, 2023 by Dave Haynes

The UK-based out of home media firm Ocean Outdoor has released insights developed from neuroscience research that establishes cause-and-effect linkage between splashy, flashy creative spots on billboards to social media versions.

Ocean says its exclusive neuroscience research released this week “establishes how premium digital out of home (DOOH) primes and optimizes social media campaigns, elevating brand relevance, likeability and authenticity.”

Ocean has done a series of studies with Neuro-Insight in the last several years, and this fifth study used brain imaging to demonstrate how DOOH advertising is vital in helping brands get more mileage from their social media content.

This is interesting because the rise of anamorphic illusion creative on real-world digital billboards, and the use of CGI to create faux billboards on buildings and structures, have prompted some observers to suggest there is as much or more benefit from this creative showing on Linkedin, Tik Tok and Instagram as there is with the actual booked and placed billboard ads. Just think of some of the more viral things like the not-real post World Cup CGI’d ad on the Dubai Frame, which doesn’t actually have a screen but got HUGE social activity and a lot of viewers just assuming it was real (or not caring).

From Ocean’s summary:

To test the hypothesis that premium DOOH and social media channels are congruent and innately aligned, Ocean analysed brain responses to different forms of social media posts which had been shared across Tik Tok and Instagram.

Two cohorts of participants in London and Manchester were shown advertising content from brand social media posts, social media posts shared by well-known influencers within that brand’s sector and DOOH content featuring the brand.

Significantly, the participants were also shown social media posts which featured the DOOH content itself in order to gauge the relative brain response to each form of content.

From the resulting responses, Neuro-Insight concluded that:

Ocean Outdoor UK CEO Phil Hall said the study demonstrates a step change in the evolution of DOOH.

“Put simply, if a brand has a social media strategy on the plan then it needs to build in DOOH to make it better and more effective,” he said.

“Neuroscience has previously established the priming effect of premium DOOH on mobile devices. Now we can demonstrate what happens when out of home transcends the physical screen and becomes the content for brands’ social media campaigns.

“Using DOOH content across social media unlocks significant value, delivering well beyond the priming effect of physical DOOH alone. For advertisers these are serious benefits, proving DOOH is a vital ingredient when used to make big statements and mark important moments which by their very nature are incredibly shareable.”


Building on four previous neuroscience studies, the hypothesis was that that full motion DOOH advertising creates enhanced emotional associations for advertisers when used as part of their social media campaigns, thus strengthening the impact of memory encoding on the brain.


Neuro-research was chosen as the way of exploring impact, because it provides a means of looking at people’s sub-conscious responses which are difficult to assess through traditional, questions-based research. Neuro-Insight, a pioneer in neuromarketing and neuroanalytics, conducted the research.

The study was conducted in London and Manchester to collect responses which were representative of both cities’ innate cultural differences. A sample of 138 participants took part in the study, attending a central facility and wearing headsets that recorded their brain responses.

For the social media platforms, Tik Tok and Instagram were chosen for their scale, the visual nature of the content they support and their reach across the 16 to 34-year-old demographic.

The London cohort was exposed to DOOH led social content which has appeared on the Piccadilly Lights. Manchester was used as a proxy for Ocean’s wider DOOH assets. Both cohorts have different levels of exposure to OOH ads and different views on social networks which the findings of this study reflects.

Neuro-Insight owns a patented brain mapping technology called SST, which allows them to measure physiological measures such as long term memory and approach on a second-by-second basis as people interact with their social media.

The technology records and measures electrical signals at the scalp in order to build a second by second picture of activity in the brain. All metrics used are based on measures that have been published and peer reviewed and are well-established in the field of neuroscience.

For all of our neuroscience studies, please visit

Leave a comment