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How emotions are linked to sales: your questions answered. Interview with Realeyes' CEO Mihkel Jaatma

By Mihkel Jäätma
Realeyes CEO Mihkel Jaatma

Having presented research about the link between emotional perception of video ads and sales results, Realeyes has been approached with questions and queries. We have collected those enquiries and sat with Realeyes’ CEO Mihkel Jäätma to go through all of them.

What’s the gist of this research?

So we collaborated with Mars, Incorporated to create the world’s biggest database linking emotional responses to video ads with sales. Over two years, 22 000 people watched 149 ads of 35 brands in 4 product categories, in 6 different markets. We then matched emotion data with a single source sales data to see which ads drove sales and which didn’t. We could identify this correlation with 75% certainty.

What do you mean by emotion data?

Okay, let’s take a step back. Our key technology is emotion AI. It is also known as emotion analytics, emotion measurement, emotion recognition, emotion tracking, facial tracking, or facial coding – you get the idea. Using machine learning we measure how people feel as they watch video content. We track their emotions via webcams (with full consent, of course) and then consolidate the data from multiple viewers to see a collective emotional response. Since emotions are genuine reflections of our feelings, everything that our face shows is a truthful subconscious reaction to what we see. We call that emotion data.

You only test video content?

We do test static images but yeah video content is our primary area of expertise. While emotion analytics can help with many different business challenges, we’re focusing on video. Video is the fastest growing media, played everywhere on all kinds of devices. This rapid growth has just one problem – there’s simply too much content around. The whole ecosystem is getting very noisy and every brand asks itself: “Just what do I have to do to be seen in that sea of content?” Some call it a crap trap.


Pardon me, what is a crap trap?

Ha-ha, it's actually comes from Marc Pritchard, "the most powerful man in advertising".  It refers to the modern-day phenomenon wherby marketers try to stay competitive by producing volumes of content for every platform. This deluge often leads to a compromise on quality. 

Sounds familar right? And how do customers respond? In a pretty straightforward way – by adblocking. Is the advertsing industry happy about it? Clearly not. It's becoming a viscious circle. Solution? Content a consumer can't resist. And this is where Realeyes comes in to play.    

How exactly does Realeyes help?

A great video is the one that manages to establish an emotional connection with a viewer. Realeyes measures just that - how emotionally connected viewers are to the video. While we measure specific emotions such as happiness, surprise, anger, or disgust, we also measure engagement, attention and impact of the video – and this is exactly what every marketer is after. By having a genuine feedback on their video-content, a marketer makes a decision – whether to edit the video, retarget to a different audience or a different market. Or maybe not to run it at all. This saves thousands if not millions of ad dollars.


Let’s get back to Mars collaboration. What does it mean for the industry?

Well for the first time ever, we’ve established the link between what viewers feel as they watch a video ad and whether they will be inclined to spend on that brand, with 75% confidence. In other words, we’ve connected emotions with sales. Emotions drive behavior and hence, are responsible for making a purchase. Or not making a purchase.

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So what kind of emotions are linked to a lift in sales?

Without going in to the depths of our regression model – this is essentially about happiness. When a customer is smiling and happiness grows over time, they’re feeling good about that brand and will be inclined to buy.


Would other brands be able to order a sales validation service from you?

At this stage, it’s still research. We need more time (and even more research!) to convert it into a solid product. But based on what we’ve seen, we’re confident the Realeyes technology will be able to identify ads that sell with a very high degree of certainty.

What’s the future of emotion data and what’s its place in the marketing process?

Analysts call emotion measurement the next frontier of big data. And this is for a good reason – knowing exactly how a customer feels about what he sees empowers marketers with a laser-focused decision making tool. Realeyes’ emotion recognition technology can be used at both creative testing and media planning stage, providing a marketer with insights for content optimization. As for the future applications, enjoy good content and stay tuned!

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by Mihkel Jäätma

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