Better Advertising Through Unlocking Emotional and Non-Conscious Reactions

Posted by: LRW
  • May 8, 2012
  • 4

Last week we discussed the holy grail of marketing, understanding what drives the non-conscious and emotional aspects of consumer choices.  This week we want to dive deeper into the real world business applications of emotional and non-conscious reactions as it specifically relates to evaluating advertising.

While the majority of advertising research tends to focus on the rational and explicit aspects of consumer decision making, this does not provide a full picture of how consumers interact with a brand’s products and communications.  Since emotional “influence” happens without us knowing it–implicit emotional responses of the consumer must be accounted for to understand the full picture of their choices.

To truly create an effective ad, the testing approach should focus attention on the core centers of brain decision-making:

Rational Evaluation – In all ad testing systems it is important to understand the performance of an ad in the context of the traditional copy testing paradigm – breakthrough, persuasion, communication, and brand connection.  However, most copy testing systems simply compare the test ads against all other ads tested (best of the best, worst of the worst, ads from the 80’s to ads of the 21st century).  In order to predict effective in-market performance, this benchmark needs to be set higher.  The key to creating a truly effective ad is to compare the ad’s performance against a set of ads that met their financial and messaging objectives.  Using this higher threshold ensures that ads are truly effective and not just average.

Implicit Emotion – Using facial recognition software provides unfiltered, frame-by-frame insight into the presence and intensity of the 6 universal emotions (happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, disgust and fear).  This gives a more dependable reaction to advertising than simply asking respondents how they feel.

Non-Conscious Reaction – The use of a rapid response task with emotion words can further dimensionalize those 6 universal emotions and provide deeper understanding of the tone of the ad and the intensity of non-conscious reactions.

Salience – Every marketer wants to know how well their advertising is connecting to their target audience, especially with word of mouth becoming more important in today’s market.  Using a digital pitch technique, asking the respondent to sell the product they just saw the ad for, combined with analyzing the words they use in the pitch can provide much richer feedback.  This approach will identify what is most noticeable in the message to the consumer on a non-conscious level without having to ask them directly.

Memory – The only truly effective way to measure how well an ad’s message sticks with a consumer is to test how much they remember after time has passed, just as time generally passes between watching an ad and being in a purchasing situation in the real world.  Day-after recall is an area that has been under debate for many years.  However, by recontacting respondents 3 to 7 days after first watching the ad and probing on how much they remember about the brand, the message, and the emotions they feel, researchers can better understand how the ad will affect future purchasing behavior.

Ad testing is dreaded by many, especially when it’s used as a report card, but this form of ad testing can help Creatives develop advertising with deeper emotional connections between the brand and consumers.  Are your ads being put through a rigorous testing process to uncover consumers’ emotional and non-conscious reactions?  What do you think makes a truly effective ad?  Please share your thoughts on advertising pre-testing and the systems currently in widespread use.

 

4 Comments
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