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TV advertisements that elicit a strong emotional response get better sales, new study shows

TV advertisements that generate strong emotional reactions deliver a stronger sales impact, a new study by leading marketing science academic Professor Karen Nelson-Field has found.

The study, a continuation of Professor Nelson-Field’s groundbreaking Benchmark Series for ThinkTV, is being released as advertisers woo consumers with a festive flurry of emotionally-charged TV ads for the Christmas season.

As part of the Benchmark survey of more than 2,600 Australians, Professor Nelson-Field’s team asked 140 consumers to view 15 TV advertisements and classify their feelings upon viewing. Viewers were asked to classify the intensity of their reactions and whether their emotional responses were positive or negative.

The Professor and her team then rated each ad’s sales impact using the well-established metrics of:

  1. Attention – how much their eyes were on the screen, measured using eye-tracking software
  2. Short-term advertising strength or STAS* (measured by how often brands were picked out by viewers in an onlinesupermarket after they had watched a series of ads)

The attention and STAS scores for each ad were then matched against the types and levels of emotions each ad elicited (click here for a short video explaining the Benchmark Series’ broader methodology).

The study found that ads which generate a strong reaction, irrespective of whether or not the reaction is positive or negative, garner 16% more attention than ads which elicit weak reactions.

Professor Nelson-Field’s findings also demonstrate the link between strong reactions to advertising and resulting sales impact. Ads which generated a high emotional response had a 2.4x greater sales impact than ads which elicited a low response**.

Professor Nelson-Field said: “As part of the Benchmark Series, our cross-platform study into the impact attention has on ad sales, we shone a spotlight on the role emotion plays on generating attention and resulting short term sales strength when it comes to TV ads.

“When TV ads elicit strong reactions they will deliver more sales but they are however difficult to create. It is important to recognise that getting your ad seen still plays a more important role: low emotion ads will still gain more attention when distributed on more visible platforms than a highly emotional ad that can barely be seen.”

Kim Portrate, Chief Executive of ThinkTV, said: “The timing of Karen’s latest findings couldn’t be better as we head into the Christmas selling season and brands seek to stir our emotions with their seasonal ad campaigns.

“We already know that TV is an experience and the complete story-telling media that captures the hearts of minds of Australians. It affords brands the time and space to create a beginning, middle and end, build tension and resolution, triumph or loss – and the ads are shown against premium quality content.

“Karen’s earlier work for us has also proved the positive impact on attention and sales that TV ads make because they are shown on 100pc of the screen 100pc of the time.

“This work is an important next step in ThinkTV’s mission to helping advertisers and agencies, including creative agencies, get the very best out of today’s multi-platform TV, which is brand safe, measurable, reaches more people faster than any other medium and makes advertisers more money than any other medium.”

Check out The Benchmark Series: Emotions and Advertising

* How is STAS measured?
STAS is the acronym for Short-Term Advertising Strength. STAS is calculated by determining the proportion of category buyers who bought a specific brand having not been exposed to that brand’s advertising, and comparing this to the proportion of category buyers who were exposed to advertising and went on to buy the brand. A STAS score of 100 indicates no advertising impact in that those who were exposed to the advertising were just as likely to purchase as those who were not. A score above 100 indicates that the advertising had an impact on sales.

** Correction from original release which stated ‘ads which generated a high emotional response had a 30% greater sales impact than ads which elicited a low response’.

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