Using an emotional model to measure ad effectiveness

Orlando Wood

Advances in neuroscience in the past 20 years have told us much about the way the human mind works. We now understand that emotions guide and bias our decision-making and are essential for it. If we ignore our emotions, we do so at our peril. Not only does it turn out that emotions are more central to our decision-making than we have previously acknowledged, but the role of our core consciousness in decision-making is also being called into question. Scientists at the Bernstein Centre for Computational Neuroscience have shown that a decision is formed in our subconscious as much as six seconds before we believe we have consciously made that decision.

Much has been written in recent years on emotion and its role in advertising. Theories of high and low attention processing have been advanced to explain the role of emotion. Binet and Field (2007) have illustrated with their analysis of IPA data that high attention processing – where the viewer brings conscious thinking to bear on an ad – is “not always necessary” and “not always sufficient”. Heath (2009) also asserts that “we always form an attitude about a decision through emotion and subconscious rational processing before we start to consciously and actively 'think' about it”. He asserts that TV advertising is not goal-driven but stimulus-driven, and it is our feelings when watching TV ads that inform sub- and semi-conscious thinking, which in turn leads to covert brand-linked attitude change and, ultimately, a decision.