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Emotion is Under-Utilized in Digital Advertising-New Study

Digital ads which evoke strong emotions are four times more likely to drive brand equity, according to new research from Kantar and Affectiva.

Using Affectiva’s Emotion AI facial coding, the research measured consumers’ emotional responses to digital ads in Kantar’s ad testing database to uncover how marketers can optimize creative assets to power impactful digital campaigns.

Why it matters

Study has shown that the industry metrics widely used to measure online ads, like clickthrough and completion rates, have little correlation with a campaign’s success or brand impact. Measures such as facial expressiveness – which indicate a degree of emotional or cognitive engagement with the content – are far better predictors.


The digital ads that build brand equity most effectively are those that trigger more emotional experiences – of all kinds.

The best performers leave viewers with overall positive feelings like pride, contentment, and attraction, while low-performing ads are associated with negative feelings such as being unimpressed, annoyed and disappointed.

Humour is the main way to prevent viewers from skipping ads; it was the top reason in 30 of 42 countries studied in Kantar’s AdReactions survey.

Key quote

“As digital advertising matures, it’s time that advertisers treat it as an important brand-building channel as well as a transactional one – and leverage emotions and human stories to deliver the most impact” – Ecem Erdem, Global Thought Leader, Creative, at Kantar.

Credit: WARC

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