Negative TV News Language Could Impact Marketers' Business

Business outcomes for TV marketers on TV news channels might be dramatically affected by news language sentiment. And then consider marketers’ own language.

In a recent report, Unbounce, a landing page/conversion research company, says “negative emotional language” can result in lower conversions in many industries.

What kind of negative stuff? Words like “anger,” “fear,” “sadness,” “ruthless’ and “depressing” frequently correlated with a decrease in conversions.

Some of this coincides with what happened in 2020. According to this study: “In a year of negative news, increasing negative language killed conversions for marketers.” The research analyzed outcomes from almost 264 million visits to over 44,000 landing pages, which led to 33 million conversions.

This isn’t to say specific TV and media news channels weren’t effective in boosting their own platforms when it comes to use of negative language. News negativity drove unprecedented amounts of clicks and content consumption in the media in 2020.



But when marketers try to take up the same tone, it's not as effective.

Megan Sakakibara, vice president of marketing at Unbounce, stated: “The data from our study uncovers the enormous challenge marketers faced trying to land the right tone in one of the most heady social and political times most have ever seen.”

The research doesn’t directly address TV network language. But we get the drift. Many TV networks' related websites offer similar negative tones.

And we know the metaphor of watching a car accident while driving by. Negative news stories -- which may include natural disasters, disgraced politicians, socially-scary protests/riots -- can bring viewers to TV screens in droves. And then fuel anger-related opinionated prime-time TV newscasts.

But does that mean all those new-heavy pharmaceutical and pillow makers marketers are getting lower results? Not necessarily. For all media and entertainment businesses, the median overall conversion rate last year was 7.9% -- much higher than the 4.6% median number looking at all industries.

Of course, this is just a simple example. The more complicated side needs to examine specific media channels' attribution to see their contribution.

Until then... maybe get down with your bad self.

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