Marketers need to rethink the way they use video

Unruly managing director AUNZ Ricky Chanana
By Unruly managing director AUNZ Ricky Chanana | 6 May 2019
Ricky Chanana

Unruly’s Ricky Chanana explains the findings and significance of Unruly’s latest research ‘Video and Sustained Brand Impact’ - conducted in association with Peter Field and the IPA.

Unruly has been analysing emotional reactions to video for more than 12 years. We know that emotions are a powerful targeting tool for marketers, and we’re always looking for ways to help tell that story. That’s why we recently partnered with Peter Field, legendary marketing effectiveness guru from the UK.

Central to Peter and his partner - Les Binet’s - research is the distinction between the brand building marketing and activation marketing, and the impact this has on business’ bottom lines.

Years of research has found that brand building has a long-term impact and drives brand growth, while activation effects are short term and generate sales spikes, but do not contribute towards long term growth.

Brands need to strike the right balance between both of these to be successful. This led them to come up with ‘the 60/40 rule’ - the balance of brand building and activation activities that the data shows to be the most effective combination at driving long term growth for brands.

We’ve worked with Peter Field before and Unruly’s interest in the role of emotions in video is a natural fit with Peter’s expertise. In this study, we wanted to understand the relationship between different emotions and psychological responses and specific consumer outcomes.

In their 2013 study called ‘The Long and the Short of It’, Binet and Field state that emotional campaigns are more effective at driving long term business effects like profit. In fact, over a three year period, the same study claims that 43% of brands who only employed emotional campaigns reported very large business effects compared to just 23% of brands who concentrated on purely rational or combined campaigns. We were keen to dig a little deeper….

For the purpose of this research, we’ve followed the IPA’s effectiveness framework. Effectiveness metrics are grouped into:

● Short term effects - sales activations, which drive short term sales spikes
● Long-term business effects such as market share, reduction in price sensitivity and profitability
● Long term brand effects such as esteem, differentiation and fame

There are other long term business and brand effects but this study focused on these areas.

One of the most interesting things we identified was that three of the top five relationships for short term effects were negative psychological or brand responses, with contempt at the top.

At first glance, this may seem like a strange result. However, it can be explained by the presence of hilarity coming in at second place. Contempt is often linked to hilarity because funny ads tend to polarise audiences. What’s funny to one person can be irritating or offensive to someone else. Contempt may also be driven by ‘hard sell’ ads that can be repetitive, insistent and uncreative. Although these ads annoy viewers, they can still help sales in the short term… but at what cost to the brand in the long term?

Conversely, the study showed that positive triggers were linked to long term effects; fame, differentiation, profit and reduction in price sensitivity.

Of all the positive emotions we measure - amazement and exhilaration had the strongest links to long term effectiveness across the board.

This study reinforces Binet and Field’s findings from ‘The Long and the Short of It’ - namely that emotive video campaigns are linked to long term outcomes for brands. But marketers need to rethink how they use video in their campaign strategies because it’s clear that the drivers of long and short-term outcomes for brands appear to be very different.

Video content can play a role in short-term sales or long-term growth but this research suggests it can’t be used for both at the same time effectively. If the brand is focussing on long-term effects, then the emotional triggers most closely correlated with positive long term outcomes are amazement and exhilaration.

If they’re focussing on the short term, humour is very powerful but its relationship with contempt means it isn’t always easy to pull off. In this instance, marketers need to be mindful of negative triggers. Yes, these are linked to short-term sales spikes, but they could have a detrimental impact on the brand in the long run. It’s a fascinating area that requires more research.

The emotional response to an ad acts as a differentiator for brands, and is linked to long-term brand and business effects. As we understand more about how people respond to video, the entire rulebook for marketers is changing. We’re not there yet, but this research takes us another step closer to the holy grail of full attribution in digital.

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