It’s true: Smiling at an ad means sales will go up
A large-scale study from emotion tracker Realeyes and candymaker Mars found a correlation between emotional reactions to ads and sales lifts.
Advertisers now have a proven reason to make you smile.
That’s the basic takeaway from a new study by emotion tracking firm Realeyes and candy/food maker Mars, released this week.
Webcams in the computers of 22,334 consenting consumers in six countries tracked emotional reactions to 149 video ads for chocolate candy (such as Mars, Twix and Snickers), pet food (Pedigree and Whiskas), chewing gum (e.g., Orbit) and food (including Uncle Ben’s rice and Dolmio pasta sauces). Each ad was seen by several hundred viewers.
The idea was to see if emotional responses were related to sales lifts. With the widespread availability of webcams on computers, marketers are increasingly using emotional tracking as a regular tool.
Seventy-five percent of the time, the emotional reactions could identify a link between whether the sales lift would be high, on the one hand, or low/zero on the other. Generally speaking, consistent depictions of happiness, such as indicated by smiles, indicated that the ad would result in more sales.
I pointed out to Realeyes CEO Mihkel Jäätma that, since the beginning of advertising, marketers have known they were more likely to increase sales if the ads made the viewers happy.
“Yes, it’s proving a truth,” he admitted, adding that this is the first large-scale study to confirm that wisdom.
Using the video feed from the webcam, his company’s software detects 49 points of facial microexpressions on each viewer’s face via computer vision analysis, and machine learning is then employed to determine whether the expressions depicted happiness, surprise, confusion, disgust, sadness, engagement or other emotions.
The study also looked at users’ attention, although Jäätma said the correlation with sales lifts was not as pronounced as emotions were. But Realeyes wants to see if it can make that correlation through future research.