What’s the one problem that constantly plagues marketers? Meshing the creative aspects of content and ad creation with the hard data of views, shares, and ROI. Devra Prywes, VP of Marketing and Insight at Unruly ® shares how emotional analytics brings us one step closer towards bridging the gap between qualitative and quantitative.

Understanding your target audience is the first step towards creating an effective marketing campaign, with most creative teams basing their future work off of the analytics and successes of previous campaigns. They take a look back at the videos that got the most views as well as ads with the greatest click-through rate, and then have a professionally curated argument (sometimes referred to as a  “brainstorm”) about what worked before, and how to carry it forward to the next campaign.

Inevitably, this process will bring out strong opinions on the best way to proceed. Creative people are, by nature, passionate and innovative, and it’s rarely clear whether it’s better to stick to tried and tested tropes (we’re looking at you, Geiko gecko), and doing something completely new. Often, the most senior manager makes the final decisions based on some combination of analytics and gut instinct.

What Makes Advertising Effective?

Effective advertising uses insights gained from quantitative data to create quality content for its audience. The perennial struggle lies in deciphering the hard data in a meaningful way and transforming it into something that can actually be used to inform and improve the creative process. Devra Prywes believes that the bridge to this gap lies in emotional analytics.

In Daniel Kahneman’s bestseller, “Thinking Fast and Slow,” the author describes two systems in the brain: the rational system and the emotional system. Kahneman claims that it’s the emotional system that motivates people to do things, and Devra agrees. She says that emotions are “the secret sauce to make people want to buy, want to do things, [and] want to try new things.” Left to its own devices, our emotional system would have us binge drinking and indulging our “one-click purchase” instinct every day, but thankfully, our pesky rational system takes over with common sense and dissuades us from acting on pure emotion.

Ultimately, the success of advertising is contingent on the contest between the emotional and rational systems. If a campaign garners enough of an emotional response, it will trump our common sense rationality, and ROI will increase accordingly.

Emotional Analytics

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 1.04.24 PM

If emotions are so important to marketing, how can we measure an audience’s emotional response and use this data to inform future marketing decisions? Unruly is a pioneer in the field of emotional measurement and has several techniques to assign a quantitative measure to this qualitative subject.

Unruly’s method is a combination of high-tech facial coding and traditional audience sampling on 18 psychological responses. In Devra’s words: “the most important thing when it comes to video engagement and sharing is the intensity of psychological response. It’s broken into the emotional, cognitive, and primal areas of the brain.”

Emotional analytics grants even greater insight to an ad than traditional analytics. It allows you to unpack specific portions of an ad and gives you information on what specific emotions are the most effective in galvanizing your audience. Through this method, “Unrulies” are able to go to a client and say “This is really engaging people. This is rising to the top. Do more of this.” Or, “Your audience really is kind of tuning out over here. If you’re looking to edit something out, you could go lighter on this.”

Devra also insists that shareability is the best measure of virality, not views. While Unruly tracks views, just like other analytics companies, they’re much more interested in shares, because shares indicated “social buzz.” They’re “a measure of what people are actually talking about.”

Emotional targeting v.s. Demographic targeting


There is always an audience that engages more with an ad compared to other people, and Unruly’s emotional analytics help to discover and identify this emotionally engaged subsection. Using third party and first party data, Unruly is able to model out these critical segments and then reach similar people at scale. According to Devra, this segmentation is “like a target within your target audience.”

But is this method effective? Through Unruly’s segmentation, marketers see a “16-20% uplift in video completion rates in a more emotionally engaged audience versus the brand’s target audience,” accompanied by “upward of a triple percentage uplift in purchase intent and loyalty.”

Streamlining The Creative Process


For creative teams, emotional analytics are helpful in bringing a quantitative slant to traditionally qualitative decisions. For example, many advertisers think a really funny video is the way to go; but Devra notes that  “it’s really hard to do funny by committee. It gets really watered down.”

Now, with emotional data, creative teams have a lot more support behind their decision making. There’s no longer the problem of one manager insisting that “this is the best part, this is funny!” based solely on opinion. Unruly’s data allows marketers to study “peaks and valleys of engagement and emotion over the runtime of the video” and it’s easy to see which peaks to focus on, and which valleys to cut as a result.

In short, Unruly’s approach reorients the creative process: instead of relying on an agency’s Don Draper, emotional analytics are leaned on, putting the audience’s emotions first and decreasing the impact of personal bias and office politics in creative decision making.

If you care about shares and want to learn more about leveraging emotion to the benefit of your ROI, join us for our Marketing Analytics Happy Hour, featuring an interactive presentation by Devra Prywes.

We hope to see you there!

Marketing Analytics Promo #1

Longneck and Thunderfoot offer thought leadership services to turn your company executives’ opinions and insights into authoritative content that starts meaningful sales conversations. Learn more about thought leadership here.