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Ad Relevance, Emotional Appeal and the Content Halo Effect

By Eric Schmitt | May 30, 2022 | 0 Comments

MarketingMarketing Leadership and Strategy

Gartner recently published a research advertising  relevance from the perspective of the consumer – rather than the marketer. Consumer relevance turns out to be rich, expansive and nuanced terrain. It is closely linked to attention.  My colleagues make the compelling case that if we marketers over-simplify relevance by reducing it to ad targeting or purchase intent terms, we’re likely missing out on important growth and acquisition opportunities. The note identifies four attributes that drive relevance, and provides real-world examples of each. I encourage you to read it in its entirety: Maximize Ad Relevance by Responding to 4 Drivers of Consumer Attention Consumer  (Gartner clients only).

The discussion of one attribute in particular caught my attention. Emotional appeal, a classic X factor item that frustrates easy definition. You’ll know it when you see it, right? Emotional appeal is the subject of some time-tested advertising wisdom. Namely that it isn’t solely a function of your creative or call to action. It is also closely related to the content – or programming, if you like – that an ad is adjacent too.

This dynamic is perhaps most obvious in the medium of television: shows, sports, news, movies. In these settings, viewers often already have an emotional relationship with the content, or the people in it: actors, athletes, and anchors. Social media influencers offer a more modern analog . The pre-existing relationship between viewer and content implies a level of engagement and receptivity which carries over – and assists – brands seeking to make an impression. The viewer’s focus on the content serves to create a predisposition — or halo effect — that benefits nearby commercial messages.

The carryover impacts of premium content on advertising have been a subject of industry research for many decades. But now, as advertising data privacy and deprecation trends play out, they take on a renewed importance, and serve as a helpful reminder. Media plans based solely on audience targeting are becoming less viable, and the pendulum has begun to swing back contextual placements. As we navigate this shift, it is helpful to remember that advertising success is often linked to emotional appeal, appeal that stems not only from good ad creative, but from the programs, talent and content that surround the ad.

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