Emotion Is Key Currency To Online Brand Building

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, April 4, 2017
Recently, 60 Minutes ran an expose on the phenomenon of fake news. Explaining its success, fake-news creator Jestin Coler told Scott Pelley: “You need to talk in their language about very specific words that kind of get that emotional response. That’s the key to all of the fake news.”

Researchers from Brazil's Federal University of Minas Gerais and the Qatar Computing Research Institute came to a similar conclusion in 2015 when they analyzed 70,000 articles from BBC News, Daily Mail, Reuters and The New York Times. They found that the more emotional the headline, the more likely it was to be clicked on.

From fake news to real news, emotion has become the currency of consumer resonance and sharing.

Emotion as a driver of consumer action is nothing new.

Some advertisers have long leveraged the idea that people make decisions based on intuition and emotion, versus reason and analysis. Over the long-term, advertising and marketing that appeals to emotion leads to larger increases in overall brand growth.



And yet, despite the proof of how emotion performs in news and advertising, many advertisers fail to test their ads for emotion — happiness, humor, dynamism — as a measurement for success, especially online.

The online world has grown up differently from its TV counterparts, which was more about creative and less about data science.

Today, in the online world, the emphasis has been on after-the-fact metrics — time-spent, click-through, view-throughs — to define success. If the ad doesn’t perform, we think we put the ad in the wrong place.

How and where you target have a big role to play in the success of an online campaign. Data shows there is also a correlation between effectiveness and emotional response to online creative. Take Google, who is arguably the largest analytical thinker in the world. Their own research proves this theory.

Google’s research found that tone affects whether people tune in to an ad or tune out. In a study in which Google organized ads into categories of style and tone, including "humorous" and "calming," people were more likely to watch humorous ads.

And those ads see greater lifts in ad recall and brand awareness. If an ad resonated, consumers were willing to watch. The average length of ads on the YouTube Ads Leaderboard in 2014 averaged three minutes—an increase of 47% vs. 2013.  None of the top ads in 2014 and 2015 were under a minute.

Consumers are willing to watch a 60-second plus ad, uninterrupted. Digital can and should be thought of as a channel that can build a brand for the long-term.  In order for brands to achieve this, they should reframe their expectations.

Don’t look at digital as just a test bed or activation channel. Rely less on data science and more on creative that engages emotionally with consumers on this channel.


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