Warning for direct-response advertisers: emotional video ads 'drive market share'

Orlando Wood: effectiveness research stresses important of left- vs right-brained thinking
Orlando Wood: effectiveness research stresses important of left- vs right-brained thinking

Online video with ‘human’ and ‘unexpected’ features is more likely to generate market share, effectiveness authority Orlando Wood has argued in a new research paper.

Video advertising that entertains is more likely to drive market share than functional and instructive ads, effectiveness research from Orlando Wood and Peter Field says.

The new research into online video, launched today during the IPA-led Effworks Global conference, builds on Wood’s Lemon paper from last year, which stresses the importance of “left-brained” (rational) versus “right-brained” (emotional) thinking. 

The new Achtung! research, which has been produced in partnership with Facebook, suggests that online videos with "human" and "unexpected" features are more likely to generate market share, profit and sales gain than those with more "instructive" and "mechanistic" features.

Among the paper’s key findings, Wood argues that right-brained videos generate greater numbers of very large business effects, despite having a lower extra share of voice (a well-established metric that is equal to a brand’s share of voice, minus its share of the market). Video campaigns with left-brained features, meanwhile, are more likely to drive direct effects and web traffic. 

Wood suggests that these left-brain campaigns work in the main by priming a receptive, narrow target audience with immediate brand reminders. The research was carried out using analysis of big brand advertising on Facebook and YouTube. 

Despite the Facebook ads in a sample of 100 being heavily skewed towards left-brained features, Wood found that “even the mildly right-brained ads found in this set of ads perform slightly better on Facebook success rates” (achieving at least one of the following: brand lift, conversion or sales lifts).

The research also controls for brand size and suggests that stronger emotional performance of right-brained advertising is not just something larger advertisers need to worry about. 

“If emotional response is important on TV, it is imperative online,” Wood said. “Emotional response not only helps to sustain attention in the viewer, but it also ensures they remember your brand – and prioritise it – over others in the future. To drive long and broad effects in online video, ‘relevance’ isn’t enough; advertising has to entertain. This means focusing on the living and the out-of-the-ordinary, played out in something approaching the real world.”

Wood has warned against advertising during the coronavirus pandemic that is “self-conscious, product- and message-driven” and has argued that advertising generally has tilted toward such "left-brained" thinking in the past 20 years. In Lemon, he argued that this phenomenon has had a negative impact on brands’ ability to connect with audiences. 

Field, an independent marketing consultant and long-time research collaborator of fellow effectiveness guru Les Binet, added: “The importance of Orlando's research in an increasingly digital advertising marketplace cannot be overstated. It should serve as a massive wake-up call to the armies of digital marketers who have preached the ‘timely and relevant information’ mantra for the last 20 years and rejected the idea of entertaining advertising: they urgently need to rethink, if online video is to sit at the top table of long-term advertising effectiveness.”

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