Influencers can generate a significantly stronger emotional response and higher levels of memory encoding than TV ads, according to research seeking to move the measurement of influencer marketing effectiveness beyond reach and engagement metrics.

Whalar, an influencer marketing agency, teamed up with Neuro-Insight to test whether influencers evoke intense emotions and create lasting memories in a study that involved three cells of 60 respondents: followers of micro influencers (10k to 100k followers), followers of macro influencers (100k to 500k followers) and followers of celebrities.

Respondents carried out a series of tasks as normal – watching TV, YouTube videos and browsing their own Facebook feed – during which they were shown a series of ads that formed part of brand campaigns while brand activity was measured. (For more details, read this WARC article: The science of influencer and its impact on influencer measurement.)

“Looking at the heatmaps of brain activity, it’s clear that there’s a stark difference,” says Shazia Ginai, CEO, Neuro-Insight. “The response to TV ads is weak, with lots of blue [little activity] and green [average], compared to influencer ads, where there is a lot of red [high[] and pink [very high].”

And comparing key metrics across the formats revealed that study participants reacted far more strongly to influencer ads than TV ads: the former generated 277% more emotional intensity and 87% more memory encoding (which correlates to future action and decision making).

The study also highlights an influencer priming effect. Users tend to be put off by the interruption of TV, Facebook and YouTube ads, but if they’ve seen an influencer post from the same campaign beforehand they’re more ready to watch the TV ad and not dismiss it out of hand.

“This is really a huge shift, and an amazing result for influencer,” says Ginai – and one that has implications for media planning and flight times. 

Sourced from WARC