LONDON: Few video ads deliver a strong emotional message that consumers will quickly absorb and that will remain with them long into the future, according to a new study which suggests marketers remain too focused on short-term outcomes.

When researcher Kantar Millward Brown looked at post-campaign sales across 1,700 campaigns, it found that a strong focus on emotional relevance and creative engagement led to increased business.

But when it explored a typical week's advertising across TV, pre-roll and social media it discovered that almost two thirds (64%) of the ads reviewed delivered an explicit product message, the remainder being implicit.

Implicit messaging was more likely to be deployed on social media ads than on TV. Overall, just 15% of ads relied entirely on implicit messaging that people can easily absorb.

The report, Make a Lasting Impression, observed that this was at odds with the evidence coming from cognitive science – that people rarely think through decisions, and that snap judgements and instinctive reactions form a key part of the brand decision making process.

"Marketers should move beyond the message and focus on the impression they want the ad – and brand – to leave behind as a whole, said Daren Poole, Global Brand Director, Creative Development at Kantar Millward Brown.

"This includes the creative idea, what is said in the ad, the way the story is told, and the emotional tone," he elaborated. "It's time to stop selling product features – it rarely works. Show; don't tell."

One issue that marketers may need to address is the need to factor in emotional engagement at an earlier stage of the research process.

Gawain Morrison, CEO and co-founder of Sensum, a Belfast-based specialist in measuring emotions, told an audience at Advertising Week Europe that clients frequently regarded this area as a last-minute add-on when budgets allowed.

"There's been no thought about it, there's been no consideration to it at the outset," he said, adding that marketers needed to develop a greater understanding of research metrics and contexts as neuroscience becomes "a jump-off point for finding emotional intelligence and brand associations".

Kantar Millward Brown offered five areas for developing strong creative including: making a meaningful impression; working with the brain, not against it; good storytelling; high branding; and getting the channel right.

Data sourced from Kantar Millward Brown; additional content by WARC staff