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Why Measuring Emotions in Advertising Is So Important

Posted On  April 15, 2020
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You know good advertising when you see it. 

You know great advertising when you feel it.

The best brands – those that consumers turn to in difficult circumstances – focus on building “share of heart” to thrive in the long-term. They use emotional storytelling in their advertising to reinforce their brand positioning and strategy, creating a deep connection where consumers actually incorporate the brand into their identity.

The Tension Between Performance Marketing and Long-Term Brand-Building

During challenging times, marketers must confront important choices, especially when it comes to advertising. Since the coronavirus outbreak, the stakes have gotten higher. Budgets are tighter, and there may be short-term pressure to deliver a revenue lift.

Striking an appropriate balance of performance marketing and brand-building advertising is key. 

While performance marketing and digital advertising scale in times of high demand, the coronavirus pandemic is a harsh reminder that hard times require brands to lean into emotional connection to thrive in the long-term. The good news? Digital channels enable brands to do that more quickly, and more effectively, than ever before.

We recently hosted an incredibly popular webinar with AdWeek on this exact topic. Check it out here.

How Good Advertising Drives Consumer Behavior

This COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance and value of having a resonant brand that customers identify with. Brands like Guinness, Ford, Facebook, and Nike are leaning on the affinity they’ve built over time with pitch perfect advertising that strikes a chord without coming off as opportunistic. 

All brands want consumers to connect with them, but it’s important that they connect for the right reasons and with the right expectations.

In digital advertising, building a brand’s “share of voice” refers to increasing a given brand’s share of ad space on a website or channel. The assumption: more space drives more attention, which in turn drives higher performance. 

If their advertising is effective, many marketers believe “share of voice” leads to a greater “share of wallet.”

But as anyone can tell you, repeated exposure to an ad doesn’t necessarily inspire a positive consumer response. The effective use of emotion can be measured by another metric ― what we call “share of heart.” 

Share of heart marketing is about building a brand that captures the minds, hearts, aspirations, and values of consumers. It’s what makes a brand a consumer’s first choice. It’s what enables brands to successfully influence consumer behavior, move into new verticals, and expand into new product and service offerings. 

Our research shows consumers with high identity overlap are:

  • 5X More likely to follow brand into new categories
  • 3X More likely to purchase brand most often
  • 2X More willing to recommend brand to others
  • 2X Less willing to substitute

When consumers incorporate a brand into their own identity, they are more likely to go out of their way to seek out that brand, overlook missteps, and stay loyal to that brand even in today’s intensely competitive environment. Share of heart, and the depth with which consumers personally connect with a brand, is the key lever for both short-term and long-term success. 

How to Use Ad Testing to Build Brand Connection

When brands connect with customers on an emotional level, they can build share of heart over time. But despite a lot of misconception about the science of emotion, this isn’t some esoteric concept. It’s a process we can actively measure and influence. It starts with building the right emotional moments, connecting with basic human needs like belonging and security, and building deep brand connections over time.

Often when we think and talk about emotion, we stop at positive and negative sentiment. But the truth is much more complicated than that. If we are going to use emotion in advertising to influence whether people think, behave, and ultimately connect with our brand, then we need to be thinking about the level of arousal associated with the emotion, too. 

Eliciting the right emotions is complex work. Certain emotions lead to short-term consumer behaviors. Other emotions reinforce long-term perceptions. Frustrated, relaxed, inspired, and stressed create very different states of awareness among customers. You want to make sure you’re eliciting the right emotional responses to impact both short-term purchasing behavior and long-term brand loyalty. 

Building “share of heart” and identity overlap through advertising requires a specific set of analytical tools, creative acumen, and digital capabilities

The results can be impressive, with several of our clients building identity overlap (the extent to which consumers incorporate a given brand into their identity) by as much as 58%, while driving significant business growth through smart, emotional advertising programs. 

Want to learn to effectively use emotion in advertising and see real-life examples? Check out our AdWeek webinar, listen to the recording, and download our slides.

Collette has over 10 years of experience conducting behavioral science research. She specializes in applying behavioral science theory and methods to market research. Prior to her career in market research, Collette was a professor of psychology at Syracuse University where her work addressed stereotypes, attitudes, identity, and group interaction. Collette received a B.A. in Psychology from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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