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    Appealing to the Heart: The Power of Emotions in Advertising

    “Thinking is to humans as swimming is to cats; they can do it, but they’d prefer not to”, said influential Princeton psychologist Daniel Kahneman. On March 27th, the world lost one of the brightest minds in behavioural economics and psychology. As a legacy, Kahneman left some simple but invaluable truths about the way we buy and rationalise our purchase decisions, like this one: Our most significant purchase decisions are emotional, not rational.

    In advertising, creating an emotional preference for your brand is crucial. According to a study by Nielsen, ads with an emotional appeal perform twice as well as those with a rational appeal in terms of both short-term and long-term effectiveness. That means, reaching people through their hearts can create a connection between the product or brand and the consumer. Specific emotions such as joy, togetherness, and adventure, can be evoked. Emotions can also override rational thinking, leading to impulsive buying behaviour. 

    Curious about the impact of emotional advertising on your campaigns? We have selected some valuable insights that can help you choose your winning strategy: 

    • Humans and their modes of thought. Kahneman’s work revolutionised not only behavioural economics and psychology, but also the market research world. According to this article where marketing industry experts paid tribute to the late psychologist, core to Kahneman’s argument is that humans have two distinct modes of thought“system 1” is fast, instinctive and emotional; “system 2” is slower, more deliberate and more logical. As renowned effectiveness guru Peter Field put it: “Strong brands powerfully engage our system 1 brain, exploiting its role as a “machine for jumping to conclusions” – ultimately, it is the only secure route to growth.” Field added that nowadays, the predominant ad pre-testing model is based on emotional system 1 responses that favour long-term effects.

    Additionally, Tom Fishburne, aka our favourite Marketoonist, while dwelling on the peculiarities of market research, highlights a quote by Zig Ziglar: “People buy on emotion and justify on logic.” This concept is endorsed by neuroscience as well – neuroscientist Antonio Damasio puts it this way: “We are not thinking machines that feel, we are feeling machines that think”. 


    • Emotions can influence consumer decision-making and behaviour. Positive emotions such as happiness, excitement, and trust can create a positive association with a brand, making consumers more likely to choose it over competitors. Negative emotions such as fear, anger, and sadness can also be used in advertising to grab attention and motivate consumers to take action, such as buying a product to avoid a negative outcome. Positive emotions towards a product also lead to a willingness to pay more for it. How do we apply this knowledge practically? According to company Neurons, an industry leader in applied neuroscience, consumer neuroscience and neuromarketing: When done right, emotional advertising triggers irresistible actions that transcend rational thought, turning customers into advocates without the hard sell. Neurons add that our brain is continuously processing signals and is constantly making decisions – about what to pay attention to, and what to ignore; or whether something matches what we are looking for or if it’s not relevant at all. These instant decisions are called microdecisions.

    At the heart of each microdecision, four powers come into play to shape our perceptions: attention, emotions, cognition, and‍ memory. Emotions rise faster and are more persuasive than rational thinking. It takes a fraction of a second, only 300 milliseconds, for people to see and react emotionally to an advertisement.


    • Emotions forge long-lasting connections and strengthen brand loyalty. Brands can track changes in customer loyalty and repeat purchase behaviour to gauge the campaign’s impact. According to Neurons, emotional experiences can forge lasting connections. When an advertisement or brand experience triggers strong emotions, it forms a powerful memory that stays in the consumer’s mind, so consumers are more likely to remember it. These emotional memories then influence the consumer’s future interactions with the brand, often triggering a feeling of familiarity or personal connection. Ads that appeal to our feelings tend to be more memorable and effective. They evoke responses that make us relate to the product, brand, or cause on a personal level, stimulating emotional engagement and fostering brand loyalty. 
    • Consumers’ emotional states impact their decision-making. The emotional state of consumers plays a significant role in the perception of ads. For example, a consumer who is feeling anxious or stressed may be more likely to make impulsive purchases, while a consumer who is feeling happy and relaxed may be more likely to take their time and carefully consider their options. 

    The so-called friction is an important factor to consider, too. Neurons tested the effects of mobile phone delay on consumer responses for Ericsson and Vodafone. The first study was performed in Denmark, and a follow-up cultural comparison study was then performed in Germany and Indonesia. During the study, participants were exposed to different lengths of delay while browsing web pages and looking at videos. What Neurons found was astounding: the experience of delays led to a dramatic increase in cognitive load, while emotional responses plummeted. Their responses were similar to watching a horror movie! Participants reported annoyance and lower enjoyment of the content. Even the service provider brand took a hit when assessed after the test! 

    According to Neurons, friction is an obstacle to customer success — the more numerous obstacles you provide for seeing, obtaining, securing, purchasing, and iterating purchase for your product, the less likely it is to be chosen. Friction is all about those obstacles for a smooth behaviour from A to B, where B is your solution being chosen. As Facebook writes on their zero-friction page: “Every new step or delay is a chance for customers to abandon their journey.”

    • Decoding successful emotional advertising campaigns. So, what are the key elements of successful emotional advertising campaigns? Among others, these include:
    • Clear Objectives: Define specific goals for the campaign, such as increasing brand awareness or driving sales, to guide the strategy and measure success
    • Understanding the Audience: Deeply understanding your target audience’s values, interests, and emotions is key to creating ads that resonate with them. Find out the target audience’s demographics, preferences, and behaviours to tailor messaging and creative elements effectively
    • Compelling Message: Craft a message that captures attention, communicates the unique value proposition, and resonates with the audience on an emotional level
    • Creative Execution: Develop creative assets that are visually captivating, relevant, and consistent with the brand identity across all channels
    • Multi-Channel Approach: Utilize multiple channels and platforms to reach the audience where they are, maximizing reach and engagement
    • Call to Action (CTA): Include clear and compelling calls to action in the advertising materials to prompt the desired response from the audience, making it persuasive and easy to follow
    • Measurement and Analytics: Implement robust tools to track campaign performance, monitoring key metrics like engagement, conversion rates, ROI, and CPV to gain insights for optimization
    • Respecting Privacy: Emotional advertising should not exploit personal information or violate viewers’ privacy.
    • Flexibility and Adaptability: Stay agile in response to market dynamics, trends, and competition, being willing to pivot strategies, refine messaging, and reallocate resources based on evolving needs and opportunities

    Want to connect with consumers via emotional advertising? Novelty Media, via SmartAdd, offers an innovative mobile media channel that lets your video and static content shine. With us, your content elicits the desired positive emotions and is eagerly anticipated by the audience. We deliver content that entertains, sparks curiosity and educates while respecting consumers’ privacy and rewarding the audience for their loyalty. Want to make sure that your brand message gets through at peak moments of focused attention, fosters a deep connection with consumers and drives sales? Choose SmartAdd! This way, your content benefits from a long-term impact and increased brand loyalty, while avoiding consumer annoyance. 

    Join our global advertisers who have repeatedly chosen our innovative platform. We are fully endorsed by Mobile Operators and our audience consists solely of humans – verified mobile subscribers. Contact us today to find out more about SmartAdd and let us guide you through the semantics of our solution.