Boffins lift the lid on which online ads increase sales

girl-on-laptopAs the furore over Google’s ad misplacement rages on, a new consumer study claims to have finally lifted the lid on which ads can deliver high sales lift – as well as those which fail – using emotion technology to measure how people feel while they watch online ads.
The research, carried out by Realeyes – an intelligence company founded at Oxford University – and FMCG giant Mars involved 149 ads across 35 brands and 22,334 people in six countries.
It used artificial intelligence to analyse consumers’ facial expressions through their webcams and was designed in collaboration with the Mars Marketing Laboratory at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science.
Realeyes’ emotion data was cross-referenced with Mars’ known sales lift data for each ad to investigate the relationship between emotions and sales performance. This created what is claimed to be the largest emotional dataset linked to real business outcomes currently in existence.
The analysis showed that emotions data could be used to correctly identify whether the ads tested had a “no to low” or “high” impact on sales 75% of the time.
Realeyes chief executive Mihkel Jäätma said: “We wanted to see if our emotion measurement technology could distinguish between high and low performing ads. Being able to identify strong creative with high sales impact enables advertisers to push these ads, and avoid putting media spend behind those with low, or worse – no sales impact.
“It’s about spending campaign budgets more effectively, optimising ad creation and media buying at no additional cost. Just think, an algorithm can detect how people feel about an ad by tracking their facial expressions, and that can tell us whether that ad will sell or not – that’s exactly what our scientists been working to achieve.”
Realeyes technology measures the micro-movements of the face and uses computer vision and machine learning to analyse them, focusing on expressions of happiness, surprise, confusion, disgust, engagement, and behaviours such as how and when people move their head.
The tech firm is now looking at how the insights from the Mars study – the scale of which it insists surpassed any previous work done in this area – could be expanded in order to further the advance of predictive analytics linked to real business outcomes.
This work reconfirms the value of reading people’s unconscious, unbiased facial expressions and measuring their emotional reaction to advertising. Truly understanding the consumer’s response to advertising enables better revenue-driving choices, and reduces wasted media spend on weak videos, the company claims.
This year, the Advertising Research Foundation has established “The Innovators A-List” for creating scalable, disruptive solutions for marketing and advertising. Some 85 companies went through a rigorous vetting process and Realeyes was one of only 32 to be nominated – for its innovative technology of emotion analytics.

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