Study Reveals Link Between Emotion, Campaign Metrics

Emotions can be powerful triggers when it comes to the performance of content-led marketing campaigns, according to the findings of a study by BBC StoryWorks, a unit of BBC Worldwide.The latest research -- the second installment of the study “Science of Engagement” -- explored the connection between emotions and campaign metrics.

Teaming up with tech platform CrowdEmotion, the study applied a combination of traditional research metrics with facial coding techniques.

Nine BBC StoryWorks campaigns featured on were used as case studies for the research. The campaigns consisted of a mix of video and written material, as well as an infograph created for such clients as AIG, Cathay Pacific, Mazda and Hainan. In addition to analyzing the emotional impact of these campaigns, the research also took into consideration the length of the content and number of social media referrals, coupled with statistical techniques such as correlation analysis to identify the  main drivers in each campaign’s success.

Among the study’s findings:

--The triggering of serious emotions (puzzlement, fear, and sadness) resulted in a deeper subconscious relationship with the brand -- a theory demonstrated by reactions to “Emerging from the Darkness,” a video produced with telecom firm Huawei, featuring artist John Brambitt, who discussed how he paints without being able to see.

The content led to a 50% increase in subconscious positive emotion toward Huawei among viewers. The research also showed that triggering serious emotions can help support campaign objectives such as ad awareness, positivity, brand image, and consideration.

When applied to HSBC’s "Going the Distance" campaign and an article that focused on the challenge of maintaining long distance relationships, ad awareness increased by 217%.

--Advertisers shouldn't ignore the lighter emotions like happiness and surprise, which also played key roles in consumers making purchase decisions and in driving feelings related to brand image and consideration. For example, Cathay Pacific’s video on the evolution of in-flight dining received a 57% increase for both brand image and consideration.

The research also highlighted the effectiveness of content-led marketing campaigns on

--For example, the average campaign resulted in a 30% increase in subconscious positivity, a 49% increase in average brand image, a 56% increase in recommendation, and a  50% increase in consideration.

“This research provides valuable insights into the strong emotional impact of high quality content marketing, and the benefits that the content delivers for brands across a range of key metrics. Crucially, those insights can also now help inform distribution strategy, including how best to deliver engagement for content marketing in the social space," Richard Pattinson, SVP, content, BBC Advertising and head of BBC StoryWorks, told Real-Time Daily via email.

As for the connection to real-time marketing, Pattinson told RTD that in the coming months, BBC StoryWorks will be building tools that enable it to test the emotional engagement of the content it creates in real time. "This will reveal the elements driving the strongest emotional responses, and which emotions they are eliciting. We’ll use these insights to help shape our overall distribution strategy, and believe that this will strengthen both campaign performance and overall audience engagement."

The research also offered guidance on how brands can best influence audiences:

--Intrigue but don’t confuse. The right level of puzzlement will drive recommendation and consideration, but too much will deter audiences.

--Choose video because it drives bigger brand lifts; brand images were found to be 5 x more effective.

--Showcasing the right emotions will drive social media referrals. The findings suggest that 55% of consumers who express happiness, puzzlement, and fear are likely to share content.

 The study involved five markets—Hong Kong, Australia, Germany, the U.S., and Singapore—and 9,136 participants.

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