Optimizing the Amount of Entertainment in Advertising: What’s So Funny about Tracking Reactions to Humor?

Thales S. Teixeira

Harvard Business School

Horst Stipp

Advertising Research Foundation

Management slant

  • This study uses facial tracking to explore how marketers can best use entertainment in ads.
  • It explores the optimal level (not too low and not too high) of entertainment to strike in video ads to increase their effectiveness in driving sales.
  • It suggests that the funniest ads are not necessarily the most effective at high levels and that the optimal level differs between humorous and other entertaining content.
  • Lastly, it indicates that the optimal level depends on a host of other factors such as consumer familiarity with the brand and knowledge of the category.
  • Based on these findings the authors recommend that advertisers review their practices regarding their focus on excessive entertainment in advertising.