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Ads should match viewers' mood

News, 08 April 2015

NEW YORK: Advertisers should consider the emotion and energy levels of their ads when broadcasting after certain types of programming because the wrong approach can affect engagement and ad recall, according to a new study.

Columbia Business School conducted a series of six studies into how the "activation", or energy levels of media-induced emotion, influences consumers' responses to ads.

It found that viewers in a state of "deactivation" – induced, for example, by a plotline that makes them feel sad – are less responsive to high-energy ads.

This matters, the report said, because the vast majority of ads are highly energetic, including 80% of ads shown on the online video service Hulu.

"When you feel low or sad, ads that are high energy are difficult to watch. So you spend less time watching, and the ad is less effective," explained Keith Wilcox, professor of marketing at Columbia Business School.

Wilcox co-authored the report with Nancy Puccinelli of the Said Business School at the University of Oxford and they concluded that a viewer in a high state of activation is alert, both physically and mentally.

But someone in a state of deactivation after viewing sad programme content can become confused by the sudden switch in tone caused by so many high-energy ads.

Instead, Wilcox and Puccinelli advised advertisers placing ads during a sad movie or TV programme to opt for ads that are only moderately energetic.

Reinforcing their point, the research found that viewers experiencing a deactivating emotion respond 50% more favourably to a moderately energetic ad than to a high-energy one.

Furthermore, the research found that viewers in a "neutral" state spend just as much time watching highly energetic ads as they spend watching moderately energetic ones.

Data sourced from Columbia Business School; additional content by Warc staff