A good ad will provide useful information. A better ad might make you think. The best ads, however, are so creative that they make you feel. Whether the sentiment is positive or negative, the most successful brands have recognized that emotional advertising can often deliver the most powerful results.

This isn’t based on intuition. Organizations like Nielsen have been researching and quantifying the connection between emotions and ad campaigns for years. In one study, for instance, Nielsen found that ads with the best emotional response can drive a 23% lift in sales volume. That can make a huge difference, particularly as brands compete for consumer attention in a challenging economic climate.

The Power of Emotion In Advertising

Another way to think about the power of emotions in advertising could be described as emotional intelligence (EQ): in other words, the ability of a brand to understand and recognize how their marketing assets will make people feel before they appear.

In a 2022 study by Carot that assessed more than 50 advertisers across 15 markets, the top 20 brands that showed high EQ grew their revenues so much that they outperformed major stock market indices. The research found that high EQ is based upon acting with empathy, being purposeful of where a brand can add value and having a clear story, among other factors.

How Brands Use Emotion To Drive Connection

Advancements in technology are making it easier to further analyze the use of emotions in marketing. A recent report from market research firm Kantar, for instance, described techniques such as facial coding to understand how feelings influence consumer behavior.

Kantar noted that the use of humor can be a way to take challenging subject matter – such as advertising products focused on improving sustainability – and make it more accessible to those considering a purchase. When some consumers didn’t find a particular ad funny, however, the data could be used to inform revisions to a campaign.

Computer vision, audio inputs, and sensors can all be combined to develop what is sometimes called affective marketing, which aims to develop advertising that aligns with a representative customer’s mood. This data can be refined through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to make strategic use of emotional advertising at scale.

Gartner Inc. recently forecast that emotion AI is an emerging digital advertising technology, but may take a decade to become more fully established. In the meantime, there are plenty of other ways to use emotion in ads effectively.

Emotional Advertising Examples

It’s important to recognize that consumers may already be processing all kinds of feelings before they encounter an ad. This was reflected in research published last year by the Kellogg School of Management. Its experts found that a bad mood, not surprisingly, makes us less likely to book a vacation or indulging in a luxury item.

There are sometimes occasions when negative emotions work well, though. Eliciting anger can focus consumers’ attention, for example, while fear may drive them towards a more familiar choice.

For most of us, the most memorable and convincing ads got us into a more positive mindset. This stretches back to the famous “Share a Coke” TV spot that focused on the joys of generosity. More recently brands like Nike have celebrated everyday athletes to inspire running shoe purchases, while Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign centered around body positivity.

These emotional ads worked because they made customers feel the brand shared their interests, values and, in many cases, told a story in which they could see themselves as the heroes.

Emotionally Engage Customers With Enriched Product Ads

Connecting via emotions is a way of building trust with your customers. This was validated by a 2022 study that found “emotional attachment” was the biggest driver of value across 59% of customer groups.

You don’t have to try and harness the power of emotions through guesswork or instinct. Many brands are already sitting on data that’s just waiting to be used. Part of Highstreet’s product feed management solutions, for example, includes taking data from users’ searches, which allows for an informed approach to developing customized, enriched ads that are aligned with what your customers care about.

Connect with us to learn more about product feed enrichment and how it can transform your marketing strategy.