Ad Testing and Role of ‘Emotion’ in Attention Economy


If there’s anything that we can say about our species, Homo Sapiens, as a fact, it is this: we are all very much driven by emotions. Marketing and advertising are no different. 

For humans, how we feel makes a big part of how we behave, the actions we take (and the ones we don’t), and more. Most importantly, emotions are what makes us humans, humans, after all. And yet, when it comes to our business, and most importantly, marketing, we don’t always dive deep into how emotions affect the buyers’ psychology. 

For any kind of business, advertising forms a big part of how its customers (and target audience at large) perceives their brand. Marketers spend billions of dollars every year to get people to build ads that persuade people to engage with their brand. Most marketing campaigns rely on basic demographic data such as gender, location and interests to reach their audience. 

But come to think of it, how many of these campaigns are actually sticky? How many of those do you walk with for years simply for the ‘experience’ they delivered? This is where emotions come into play and this is where traditional ad testing fails. 

Out of 1,400 successful advertising campaigns,
those with purely emotional content performed about twice as well (31% vs. 16%) as those with only rational content.

Source – HubSpot

The Need For Ad Testing: Why Is It Important Anyway?

Back in the 70s, the average person in the US would see about 500 ads per day. Fast forward to 2020, and although there are no official figures around the same, the same average consumer now sees about 5000 ads per day. Another study says that about 98% of these ads are digital; so add the increasing number of platforms to the campaigns viewed in a day. 

Well, the consumer is bombarded with noise all around. And for brands to distinguish themselves in this sea of sameness, they have to be able to think of creative ways to capture their audiences’ attention (which by the way, is now getting smaller than that of a Goldfish). 

When every consumer is different, so is the message they respond to. Ad testing allows brand marketers to find the right messaging to reach different segments of their target market, to make an impact every time their campaign is viewed. 

Imagine running a standardized campaign to promote your product with a discount code. While it might appeal to price-sensitive shoppers, there will be those who think about how commonly bought it is and how it isn’t as exclusive as they’d like it to be. 

This is where the traditional as a testing fails. It’s no longer about the offer you make or the creatives you use. It’s about the emotions you evoke that nudge the consumer to interact with your brand. 

The opportunities lost to traditional ad testing 

As with anything that’s been going for too long, evolution paves the way for what’s coming around next. Those who embrace it, thrive, and those who don’t, barely survive. The same holds true for ad testing. 

For a while, paid marketers have been testing the various different aspects of their ads, be it targeting, creatives, copies, you name it. Of which, the copy is the one they seem to focus on the most, sometimes trying an endless number of variations before choosing the final one. 

From trying a story that connects with their audience to addressing the fear-of-missing-out, everything’s been tried and done to death. 

While these are some critical aspects of any ad, there is one which isn’t listed here, one that actually makes someone interact with an ad and convert – the one thing that is the real reason behind some of those ad copies working – emotions

Think about the campaigns Cadbury has been running over the years. Each ad campaign ‘speaks’ to you. The reason? They don’t sell a product; they sell an emotion that you can experience immediately. 

If you’re wondering why analysing emotions should take the centre stage of your ad testing and how it’s added effort, let us explain. 

Emotional Ad Testing: Do You Really Need it? 

Let’s talk about the science behind all of this. As you might know, there are two main parts of the brain that drive humans’ actions – the frontal lobe and the limbic system. The frontal lobe is the “logical brain,” and it is associated with our logical reasoning, careful planning, parts of the speech, voluntary movement, and problem-solving. 

The limbic system is the “emotional brain.” This is where our intuition, subjectivity, thoughts, and emotions take the place. Here’s an infographic that explains how emotions influence our buying decisions: 

Infographic: How Emotion Influences Customers’ Purchase Intent

Let’s go back to the Cadbury campaigns we mentioned before. The one around Indian festivities more particularly.  The brand knows how gifting is a big part of our festivals. The brand also knows the general demographics of their ideal consumers. But what they add to the mix is the emotion behind why their ideal customers feel gifting is a part of the festivities. 

Their campaigns run viewers through the whole gamut of emotions such as nostalgia, curiosity, and many more. That’s why we’re not just choosing the same products from them every year, but are also able to visualize ourselves in the storylines. 

That’s the power of driving your campaigns with emotions!

And that’s exactly why the new-age brands need to add emotion-driven Ad Testing on top of their traditional ad testing framework. 

Would you have the same response to the ad campaign if they simply promoted a discount on their gift boxes? 

Affect Lab