Measurable Emotions: How Television Ads Really Work

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Emotional responses are complex and should be measured against a variety of metrics. Five advertising research companies spanning three physiological (GSR, HRT, and facial EMG), one symbolic (ZMET), and three self-report (verbal, visual, and moment-to-moment) measures tested the effectiveness of the same four television commercials. This study compared and contrasted the physiological, symbolic, and self-report measure results and found they should be used in combination, depending on the information needed. Traces from the physiological measures indicate the peaks of lower-order emotions. Self-report measures capture conscious emotional reactions using preset labels. Symbolic measures provide a mental map of the brand. The authors suggest brand managers could use different criteria in setting the advertising objectives and reorient the creative briefing process. Emotional experiences are co-created, and advertising planning should link the "brand story" with a consumer's "life story.