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July 18, 2017 // 11:34 AM

Emotions In Advertising: Top 10 Best Articles On The Benefits Of Emotional Advertising

Written by Matt Allegretti
While channel surfing the other night, I was struck by all the different emotions that advertisers use in commercials today: from fear in tobacco ads and humor in beer commercials, to devastation from images of impoverished children in humanitarian commercials. I quickly noticed the ads that resonated with me the most were those that successfully triggered specific emotions.


Similarly, when I look back over the years, the handful of ads that have managed to stick in my memory all touched my emotions in one way or another. Like that heart-wrenching ASPCA Sarah McLachlan ad from 10 years ago. The images of the abused and shivering animals still linger in my mind...


The question of how emotions influence our perception of an ad or brand, as well as our purchasing decisions, has been studied for decades in the areas of psychology and advertising. Consequently, findings have repeatedly shown that emotions do indeed have a significant influence on our decisions and brand perceptions. 




But how significant exactly?


Let’s put it this way: if you’re not using emotions in your ads, you’re missing out on more revenue. After all, 80 percent of purchasing decisions are based on emotional response rather than logic.


The bottom line is this: Emotional Ads Drive More Sales.


In an industry where increased competition is making it harder to stand out, creating emotional advertisements is crucial to engaging audiences and leaving a lasting imprint.
Need more proof? We compiled a list of the 10 best articles we could find on the benefits of using emotions in your ads, the science behind it, and why it works.


Check these out to learn how to make your ads more effective, maximize your ROI, and increase your revenue.
1. Your Brain on Video (Marketing Profs)
Article highlights:


  • 70% of viewers experience an intense emotional response to an ad were later “very likely” to buy the product.
  • Videos affiliated with strong emotions have double the chance to be shared than videos with a weak emotional appeal.
2. Emotional Ads Work Best (Neuroscience Marketing)
Article highlights:
  • Emotional content performed about twice as well (31% vs. 16%) with only rational content, and those that were purely emotional did a little better (31% vs 26%) those that mixed emotional and rational content.
3. Emotional Advertising: How Brands Use Feelings to Get People to Buy (Hubspot)
Article highlights:
  • A study of the most popular images on found that while negative emotions were less common in viral content than in positive, viral success happened when the negative images had an element of anticipation and surprise.
  • Studies show that people rely on emotions, rather than information, to make brand decisions -- and that emotional responses to ads are more influential on a person’s intent to buy than the content of an ad.
 4. How Emotions Affects Advertising (Bizcommunity)
 Article highlights:
  • Negative emotion, through the influences of loss aversion or the negativity bias is very effective at gaining an audience’s attention and exerts a greater influence on our moods and thoughts than positive emotion (think of the predominance of negative information in the news). It is usually therefore more effective to start an ad with negative emotion than positive emotion.
5. The Psychology of Video Advertising (AdAge)
 Article highlights:
  • Videos trigger the central route for some people and the peripheral route for others, two avenues that eventually converge with a common goal: to sell a product or service by selling an underlying idea. It's ideas that evoke specific emotional responses: joy, pride, sadness, anger, laughter, nostalgia, etc. These emotions fuel passion, and drives human behavior while building a brand relationship with an audience.
6. What If Robert Heath is right? Attention, Emotion, Advertising
Article highlights:
  • “The best advertising actually works through emotional processing, not persuasion, and emotional content is processed most efficiently at low levels of attention, not high.”
  • “Therefore, brand-building is best achieved through emotional advertising that generates positive feelings and gets associated with a brand through simple repetition, not rational persuasion.  High attention to the advertising itself does not support this process, and may actually inhibit it.” 
7. Creating Online Ads We Want to Watch (HBSWK)
Article highlights:


  • As expected, the researchers found that the more attentive viewers were, the less likely they were to skip to the next ad. More importantly, they found definite patterns in the emotional elements that commanded the most attention. In short, evoking surprise proved the most effective way of capturing attention, while evoking joy was best for retaining attention.
  • "The findings showed that advertisers should use a quick element of surprise at the beginning of an ad, followed by a longer period of joy, in order to get the most 'attention' bang for the buck," Teixeira says.
8. When People Pay Attention to Video Ads and Why (HBR)

Article highlights:


  • It turns out that if you make an ad too emotional sales will suffer — consumers focus on the content and don’t register the persuasive information.
  • Research shows that entertainment presented after the first exposure of the brand always improves purchases while entertainment presented before the brand always diminishes it. 

9. How Emotions Influence What We Buy (Psychology Today)

Article highlights:
  • Advertising research reveals that emotional response to an ad has far greater influence on a consumer’s reported intent to buy a product than does the ad’s content – by a factor of 3-to-1 for television commercials and 2-to-1 for print ads.
  • Research conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation concluded that the emotion of “likeability” is the measure most predictive of whether an advertisement will increase a brand’s sales.
  • Studies show that positive emotions toward a brand have far greater influence on consumer loyalty than trust and other judgments which are based on a brand’s attributes. 
10. Thinking vs. Feeling: The Psychology of Advertising (The Atlantic)
Article highlights:


  • The most successful ads -- in the eyes of advertisers at least -- have broad emotional and cognitive appeal. They target aspiration, persuasion, and emotion.