Emotions are one crucial element of digital advertising that supersede responsive ad formats, cross-device presence, and even CPMs. The real long-term connection between a brand and its audience is driven by emotions -- meaning that brands must trigger a positive emotional reaction in a consumer to gain access to their wallets.
While this concept is not necessarily new, the importance of understanding the sentiment that content on a page can provoke when placing digital ads continues to increase exponentially, and with good reason. Emotional ads outperform on almost all metrics, including profitability, and if they elicit strong feelings they are twice as likely to be shared on social media. By putting emotion at the heart of campaigns and ensuring that ads are well placed, brands can enhance engagement and forge a lasting bond with their audience.
Brands that make the connection
The most successful brands have earned audience recognition and loyalty through their ability to convey a simple and powerful emotional message in advertisements from search to display and video. Coca-Cola, for example, has cut though the noise with one word: happiness. Its "Choose Happiness" campaign links the brand with a basic emotional need and empowers consumers to feel that they can achieve — and spread — happiness by purchasing its product.
Microsoft, meanwhile, has employed a different method to tug at the heartstrings of consumers with its recent Windows 10 campaign. The ads present Microsoft technology as a platform for positive, global change in the hands of future generations. The campaign artfully conveys a message of hope — implying that tomorrow’s world will be better because of the technology children have access to today.Earlier this year, Budweiser created a viral sensation with a cross-channel Super Bowl campaign that told the heartwrenching story of a lost puppy. Through the release of several teasers leading up to the Super Bowl TV ad, Budweiser invited consumers to tweet where they thought the puppy might be for a chance to win tickets to the event. By building anticipation and enabling consumers to interact on social platforms, Budweiser created the fourth most shared Super Bowl ad of all time.
For the holiday season, WestJet must also be praised for its brilliant Christmas Miracle ad, which saw passengers receive their most wished for gifts. Offering consumers real value, the campaign permanently connected the WestJet brand with the season of giving.
The power of context
Despite the power of emotive ads, their message becomes redundant if they are not placed in the most relevant context to ensure maximum impact. For example, if a user searches for festive family activities, the most effective ads that accompany the results will be those that reflect the positive emotions associated with family bonding.
Advanced tools such as semantic Natural Language Processing use smart data to help brands avoid ineffective placements through the detailed analysis of Web content. The technology goes beyond simplistic keyword detection to uncover the true meaning of different words according to their context, allowing advertisers to assess not only the sentiment but also the emotional context of individual Web pages.
These tools and technologies enable brands to target ads with precision by using an in-depth understanding of the consumer’s likely emotional response to serve them with the ultimate combination of the right emotional message in the best emotional context to maximize impact. For example, content recommending activities for Father’s Day with a clear emotional description of the joy that comes from a family day together is well matched with an ad for Dove’s Men+Care, which depicts highly emotive scenes of fathers caring for their children.
Emotion is becoming the greatest currency in digital advertising. But no matter how emotive and creative an ad, consumers could bypass it if not placed beside complementary content in the correct context. Understanding the emotion in ads and placing them in the most effective context is vital to creating a truly engaging and immersive advertising experience. To maximize ROI, advertisers must carefully consider the location of their emotional theater before they raise the curtain.