Why neuromarketing is essential for creating impactful ads

Changes in neuro-technology are making it more affordable, scalable, and easy to use, allowing advertisers to create memorable ads and maximize ROI.
16 June 2022
Neuromarketing essential for effective ads
Deepak Varma

Head of Neuroscience Insights - North America

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Engaging consumer emotions in advertising is a proven method to building brand equity and driving ROI. There are many ways to do this, from choosing the right music to play in your ads, to  making people laugh. But it’s not always easy to know how to strike the right balance when it comes to emotional appeal advertising. That’s where the power of neuro-technology comes in. Are you ready? It’s time to explore the world of neuromarketing.

What is neuromarketing and why is it important?

Harvard Business Review defines neuromarketing as “the measurement of physiological and neural signals to gain insight into customers’ motivations, preferences, and decisions, which can help inform creative advertising, product development, pricing, and other marketing areas.”  

To help advertisers make the most of neuromarketing and implement emotional appeal advertising in their strategies more easily, Kantar has created the ‘neuro’ index score, a measure of a brand’s implicit strength based on a composite of Intuitive Associations (instant feelings), Emotional Priming (implicit affinity), and Brand Imprint (distinctive brand assets). Kantar’s neuroscience research shows that brands strong on ‘Neuro’ Index  have a brand equity 55% higher than brands with low ‘Neuro’ Index.

Advertisers can use neuro tools and solutions in various ways; Tools like facial coding can help brands:

  • Understand the level of emotional engagement consumers have with an ad.
  • Identify which parts of the ad are working well (peak engagement).
  • Identify which parts are less engaging.
  • Understand if the ending is strong enough - Your brain remembers what you like about the ad based on the memory of the experience which is centered on the peak end rule – what was the most engaging part of the ad and did it end. 

Facial coding helps to identify those moments which can be used to optimize the ad and improve parts that are less engaging. 

The most engaging moments can also be repurposed into print campaign, since the most engaging moments also get coded to memory – implicitly or explicitly. 

Tools like intuitive associations help to understand the spontaneous positive or negative associations with the ad – the ad’s first impressions that often colors what people feel about the ad. 

Overlaying tools like eye tracking can further help understand if people are paying attention to the brand and other important aspects of the ad like product demo or subtle brand cues that help make the brand memorable.

How to engage consumer emotion in advertising: Demonstrate your product 

So, we now know that engaging consumer emotions in advertising can help create a more memorable ad, but how do you go about doing this? Including product demos in ads is proven to be an effective strategy in emotional appeal advertising, but only if it feels authentic and natural and maintains the flow of the ad. Demos can be highly effective at creating empathy with consumers and lead to stronger advertising performance. 

We found examples of successfully executed demos throughout this year’s Creative Effectiveness Awards. Our digital winner, eBay, found a great way to demonstrate the brand experience without a physical product to demo in their campaign named ‘Rare Drops.’ 

The ad is a great example of using emotion in advertising, featuring new shoes dropping throughout. These new shoes elicit the feeling of novelty, something that our brains love. Novelty has a wide range of effects on cognition including improving perception and action, increasing motivation and exploratory behavior, and promoting learning, which can make for a more memorable brand experience. 

The ad begins with the ‘ping’ of a sale in the ad, which appeals to our audio sense and again, helps to engage us emotionally (as buying ‘stuff’ often feels good). The ad engages us on a journey of emotions from relief, excitement, delight, and satisfaction as the ‘drops never stop’, with the emotional connection building visually from character to character. These characters are deliberately diverse to highlight the broad global reach of the brand, and the consumer comes away from the ad with a very clear picture of what this brand can do for them. 


Our top Print/Outdoor ad, Google + Samsung’s digital out-of-home ad, “The Future is Unfolding”,  is another successful example of product demonstration done right, this time working seamlessly across the collaborating brands of Google and Samsung. This ad smoothly demonstrates in a few simple, yet sleek, movements how the folding feature of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G supports and enhances the Google content. 

Just like eBay, this ad also uses novelty through its demonstration. Every time a new window opens, dopamine is released in the brain, triggering the reward center – the same reason that we love to keep fiddling with our phones and opening new apps.

What makes an advertisement memorable? The power of a smile 

Above are some of the ways to engage consumer’s emotions, but how do you use these tools to create a memorable ad? Smiling could be the answer.

Smiling is a very powerful antidote, with multiple effects on the brain. When we see people smile, it triggers our mirror neuron systems – a group of specialized neurons that “mirrors” the actions and behavior of others  – and we smile back at them. Smiling triggers our facial muscles, which send a signal to our brains and releases endorphins. Smiling also activates the reward center of our brains, which makes ads that make us smile more memorable. 

How brands create memorable ads with a smile

We can see a great example of the role of emotion in advertising in the Mexican ad ‘Las cervezas déjaselas a Rappi’ (Leave the beers to Rappi), for the on-demand delivery service Rappi. The ad makes people laugh, showing two women watching a horror movie and wishing they had beers to drink. That’s when actress Karla Souza emerges from the sofa to let them know they can leave it up to Rappi. The women scream in shock but, before they manage to recover, another character emerges, passing them a phone with the Rappi app where they order beers for delivery. This use of humor to deliver a message about the convenience of the service creates a memorable ad.


Advertisers don’t have to use humor to make the most of emotion in advertising; ads with a more serious tone can make us smile as well. 

To prove this, we tested winning ads from the 2021 Cannes Lions Festival using Link on Kantar Marketplace, an ad-testing tool with in-built neuroscience tools. MasterCard’s “True Name” ad topped our distinctiveness scale for demonstrating an inclusive service, as well as empathy towards the LGBTQIA+ community. MasterCard was able to trigger emotion by breaking conventions and telling a powerful story to create an impactful ad that shows the potential of emotional appeal advertising. 

Work with the brain, not against it

When it comes to making the most of neuromarketing and emotional appeal advertising, building emotional engagement is the key to success. We know from Kantar’s Link Database that ads that are emotional are likely to get more attention, have more potential to go viral, and drive short term purchase and long-term brand equity. 

We have also found that inclusive advertising like Mastercard’s improves ROI, but to ensure empathy, it’s important to be authentic, to be a true ally rather than engaging in performative marketing.  Plus, with LGBTQ+-friendly businesses proving to be more profitable, you can’t afford not to be inclusive. So, how do you do this? How can you get inclusive portrayal of people right to create impactful ads? 

Kantar’s upcoming webinar discussing Inclusion and Diversity in Advertising for the LGTBQ+ Community will uncover what excellence looks like when marketing to this community by leveraging neuromarketing and emotional appeal advertising techniques. 

Register for this session to learn about evolving attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community, consumers’ views on LGBTQ+ in advertising, and reactions to LGBTQ+ ads by diverse demographics. Want to know more about how to incorporate neuromarketing in your advertising strategy to make the most of emotion in advertising? Get in touch to find out how Kantar can help.

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