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Advertising and emotion

Advertising and emotion

In the present global marketing scenario, it’s critically important to conceive an advertising campaign that triggers emotions, particularly among the millennials who form the largest market in emerging economies like China and India. To win over customers there is a need to better understand that advertising is about more than communicating rational messages, says David Brandt, Executive Vice President dealing with advertising effectiveness strategy at Nielsen. It’s    about connecting with the millennial consumer in a way that matters to them, he said in an interview

Advertising is about emotion. Companies are developing advertising campaigns not based on gut instinct but doing intensive research to study consumer behaviour using cutting-edge technologies.

The current trend is to launch advertising campaigns that are aimed at triggering   emotional response. In the present global marketing scenario, the main concern is to conceive   campaigns that trigger emotions, particularly among the millennial who form the largest market in large emerging economies like China and India.

“Emotional response in the marketing world, specifically to advertising which ultimately must be linked and associated with the brand to be successful can be triggered by many things,” explains David Brandt, Executive Vice President dealing with advertising effectiveness strategy at Nielsen.

“Our brain processes everything in our environment very quickly and identifies those items that are meaningful to us (we want to approach them), those that are not relevant and even those things we should run away from,” he said in an interview.

Things likely to trigger meaningful emotional response would include items that have existing emotional value including  familiar images such as babies, people interacting in a positive way, flags, picture of events and even close ups of faces.

Familiar music, symbols and themes can also trigger these responses as can effective communication of meaningful benefits (yes rational messages can, and should, have emotional value.)

“So if you are looking at millennials in large emerging markets you need to understand them.  What do they care about?  What matters in their daily lives?  How are there values different from others?  The key is to make your advertising and your product relevant to this important group,” explains Brandt.

Of course, this is not really new.  That is the purpose of marketing and the goal of marketing research: to match   consumers’ needs with what   marketers deliver to them in   products, customer experiences and advertising.

New trends

“What is new is that we now better understand that advertising is about more than communicating rational messages, it is about connecting with the millennial consumer in a way that matters to them.  And we have a way to measure this connection,” the Nielsen executive said.

Consumers are often not aware of the nature or intensity of their emotional response to an ad so it can be difficult for them to tell how they reacted with standard survey approaches.  This knowledge is what is driving changes in advertising measurement.

“We are seeing increasing usage of neuroscience-based tools to measure emotional response.  These are the only way to get an accurate and comprehensive understanding of emotional response throughout an ad,” Brandt explains.

Surveys – asking people questions about their response – will never be able to gain full insight into the response.  But based on the knowledge from neuroscience, marketers can develop surveys that can get them deeper into this knowledge than possible before.

Traditionally marketers would ask people if they like an ad or if made them happy or sad to judge the emotive power of an ad.   But that is not the best way.

“At Nielsen, we have worked with an academic from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom to develop a better way to use surveys to measure emotive power.  While acknowledging that it is not perfect, it is much better than the traditional approaches,” he said.

Asked about the consumer neuroscience tools that are currently used by advertisers to analyse the success of an ad campaign, Brandt said that today there are a   lot of different approaches available in the market.

The include    techniques such as Implicit Association Testing, automated facial coding, EEG, biometrics and fMRI.  They each have their own strengths and weaknesses.

“At Nielsen, we offer and combine a number of different measures, including EEG, biometrics and facial coding, to gather as wide of view of the consumer as possible,” brand said.

Neuroscience measures are available in both China and India – two major markets – where advertisers can create emotional metrics for designing the creatives.

“We have neuroscience labs in Mumbai and Shanghai and the equipment is portable enough that we can set up pop-up labs in other cities or other countries.”

One advantage of neuroscience measures is that brain response doesn’t vary by ethnicity, race or country of origin.  A strong response in the US looks the same as a strong response in India or in Brazil.  So it is easy to conduct testing in any market.

When asked about the roles local cultures play in making an ad campaign effective and successful, Brandt has this to say: “Culture is incredibly important in making a campaign effective and successful.  Making an ad culturally relevant to the target consumer is the key to generating those important emotional responses.”

When talking about the things that can trigger an emotional response, Brandt referenced the use of music, themes, symbols and people that have existing emotional value.  This is culture; the unique things about a society or segment of society that defines their values.

So even though strong (or weak) responses look the same for any person, regardless of who they are or where they live, the factors that can trigger that response can vary. And culture is one of the things that can make it vary.

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