Introduction

This research sets out to better understand an often mentioned but not well understood feature of advertising: Emotion.

For researchers, emotions in advertising are slippery beasts to catch hold of. Qualitative approaches can be very effective for surfacing people's feelings about an ad but are also dependent on the skill of the moderator and cannot be scaled. And in a quantitative setting, where short interviews are preferred for cost and quality reasons, the priority for pre-testing is usually to measure performance KPIs and diagnostics which can be normatively compared. Even if asked in a survey, few respondents make the mental effort to consider what emotions they have felt from an ad, let alone type their answer in detail.

Recent quantitative innovations to measuring emotion have therefore attempted to be minimally invasive and require little, if any, thought on the part of the respondent. System 1 methods such as facial coding which records changes in a person's facial expression and are coded to indicate polarity of emotion (probably positive, probably negative). At an aggregate level knowing the amount of emotion that is being conveyed by an ad is useful and has been shown to relate to campaign impact. But while facial coding indicates something is being felt while watching the ad, it says little about what is being felt. Additionally, some facial expressions have more than one meaning - a person may frown because the ad content is disagreeable or because it is difficult to understand. Disgust and confusion are very different feelings.