Marketing insights that spark conversions

July 11, 2017 // 5:04 PM

How You Can Use Emotions To Boost Ad Performance 

Written by Matt Allegretti
When you’ve spent thousands of dollars on a new marketing video, the last thing you want is for a few easily avoidable mistakes to sink your entire campaign. 


Now, imagine that you created 10 marketing videos over the course of a year and each one had the same easily avoidable mistakes that resulted in a 30% decrease in ROI.


How much money would you lose in missed revenue opportunities?




Tens of thousands?


Hundreds of thousands?


The scary thing is that this happens all the time. Most of us just don’t know that it’s happening because we don’t understand how individual elements of a marketing video can impact the viewer.


But it’s really not that complicated.


A large part of video effectiveness comes down to just one thing: Emotions.


Emotions are one of the most powerful influencers of purchasing decisions.


Connecting with consumers’ emotions is not only the key to getting the most ROI out of your advertisement, it is essential to growing your business.


Make your videos emotional. 70% of people who have an intense emotional response to an ad are “very likely” to purchase that product. As Dan Hill writes in Emotionomics: Leveraging Emotions for Business Success: “Emotions process sensory input in only one-fifth the time our conscious, cognitive brain takes to assimilate that same input.” In other words, emotions influence our actions faster and greater than rational thought, and research has found that measures of emotion are more predictive of a viewer’s buying habits than cognitive measures.


Marketing research shows that emotion-based advertising tends to be more profitable than fact-based advertising. A recent study by the IPA found that emotional ads were twice as profitable as rational ads (31% to 16%, and a 2016 Nielsen report stated that effective emotional ads saw a 23% increase in sales volume.


Other key benefits of emotional advertising include:


  • Video ads with strong emotions are 2x as likely to be shared as ones with weak emotional appeals
  • Emotions are the primary reason why consumers prefer brand-name products over generic alternatives
  • Emotion response to a video ad has a 3-to-1 greater influence over a consumer’s intent to purchase than does the ad’s content
  • Emotion-based ads often generate strong brand associations for viewers
  • Emotion campaigns generate nearly 2X as much profit gains as logic-based campaigns
Here are a few easy ways you can use emotions to maximize ad performance and boost ROI:

1) Use Surprise To Capture Attention Early

We are living in an over-stimulated world where human attention span is extremely short. How short? 8.5 seconds to be exact, which is shorter than that of a goldfish.


This means that video marketers need to engage viewers’ attention as early in the video as possible--preferably within the first five seconds. Video ads that fail to hook the audience early, struggle to capture and hold their attention throughout the video.


So, in order to get your message seen you have to create content that grabs the viewer quickly - and surprise is the most effective way to do this.


The following Snickers Superbowl ad, “Marilyn” grabs the audience’s attention immediately by surprising them with Willem Dafoe playing the Hollywood bombshell Marilyn Monroe.


Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating the beginning of your video:

  • Positive emotions (joy and surprise) tend to motivate viewers to watch an entire video. When feeling strong positive emotions, viewers are less likely to turn a video off or let their attention wander. That’s why it’s important to use positive emotions to hook the audience early like the “Marilyn” Snickers ad.
  • Positive emotions and likeability at the beginning of a video predict sharing.
  • A distinct peak in interest in the first 5 seconds of a video ensures viewers remain interested, which is especially important for ads because many online platforms offer an option to skip the ad after 5 - 10 seconds.
  • Adding an element of surprise early on (like the beginning of the Snickers commercial) makes viewers more likely to stop and take notice. Surprise catches attention quickly and motivates people to take action.

2) Use Joy And Include Smiling Faces

Here’s a simple test. Ask a friend, co-worker, or spouse to smile at you for 10 seconds. Look right at them as they smile.


What do you feel?


It’s nearly impossible not to feel some measure of happiness.


The savviest marketers understand this phenomenon and use it to their advantage in their marketing.


Advertisers know that showing happy faces goes a long way towards selling your ad.
Seeing smiling faces in an advertisement may lead us to:


  • Unconsciously associate the brand with happiness.
  • Connect positive feelings with the advertised product.
  • Absorb other people’s emotions as our own, expressing joy when we see smiling  faces (or sadness when we see sad faces)

Smiling faces in an advertisement will only trigger joy if the actors seem to be expressing genuine happiness like in the following Coca Cola commercial:


The Coca Cola video is inspiring and shows how advertisements have the power to spread joy and happiness. It’s hard to watch the video without having a smile on your face.


3) Use Strong Emotions At The End Of Your Videos


Remember the last time you watched a TV show that ended on an emotionally intense moment, like last year’s season finale of The Walking Dead with Negan, or "The Red Wedding" episode of Game of Thrones?


When you experience strong emotions at the end of a TV show, it generally means that the storyline made a big impression on you, which helps to shape your overall perception of the show.


The same thing happens on a smaller scale with video advertisements.


A quick look at the YouTube search for top commercials of 2016 shows that most top commercials attempt to evoke positive emotions at the end. This matters because viewers who experience positive emotions near the close of a video are more likely to:


  • Share the video socially.
  • Have an overall positive judgment of the video (which predicts higher sales and greater brand memorability).


Although it’s not an official Adidas ad, this student- made video is inspirational and does everything right:


  • It shows a smiling face and evokes positivity at the end of the video when the elderly man breaks free and is able to fulfill his dream.
  • It speeds up the tempo and mood of the music at the right time. Research suggests that fast tempos create positive emotions and delight, whereas slow tempos evoke somber and tranquil feelings.
  • It shows something unexpected.
  • It’s easy to connect with the brand and the message because both are relatable and very human.

Here are some additional tips for creating effective emotional ads:

  • Incorporate colors in your video that evoke the emotions you want viewers to feel. Colors have a significant influence over purchasing decisions. Use this infographic to help you choose the right colors for your videos.
  • Try beginning your video ad with a negative emotion. Studies have found that it can be more effective to start an ad with a negative emotion than a positive emotion.
  • Feature close-ups of faces in your ads. Faces are one of the strongest ways to increase viewer engagement.
  • Make sure your logo, company name, or slogan is prominently displayed at some point in the video. Emotion elicited by ads is more effective if associated with a brand, and is also a key component to successfully increasing purchase intent.
  • Avoid being too obvious about connecting with people’s emotions. The less aware consumers are of emotional elements in advertising, the better they are likely to work, because the viewer has less opportunity to rationally evaluate, contradict, and weaken their potency.


Topics: Emotions in Ads, video marketing, emotional advertising