Monetising moods

12 Jun 2017  |  Richard Shotton 
Monetising moods

Richard Shotton and Laura Maclean explore what impact mood has on the influence of advertising

Last time you dined out what factors determined how much you enjoyed the night? The food? The company? Almost certainly. The ambiance? Probably. But what about the weather? It’s unlikely that the temperature sprang to mind as a crucial factor.

However, analysis of 1.1 million restaurant reviews across ten years by Saeideh Bakhshi from Georgia Tech shows a surprising link between temperature and the positivity of online restaurant reviews. He found that the best reviews tended to be written on sunny days when the temperature was between 70 and 100 degrees.

But why should the heat have such an impact? According to Bakshi, it’s because the weather affects our mood. “Science has shown that weather impacts our mood”, claims Bakshi, “so a nice day can lead to a nice review. A rainy day can mean a miserable one.”

Mood is relevant to all advertisers

Mood is of interest to advertisers beyond the restaurant category. There has long been evidence that people notice more ads when they’re happy, but there’s now evidence that people are also more receptive to ads.

Let’s start with the existing research. The most famous experiment into mood and noticeability was organised by Fred Bronner of the University of Amsterdam. He arranged for 1,287 participants to flick through a newspaper and then answer questions about which ads they could remember.

When the data was split by the reader’s mood, the results were conclusive: readers in a good mood remembered 28% more ads than those in a bad mood.

However, Bronner’s study only investigated recall. Laura Maclean and I wanted to see what impact mood had on the influence of the ad. We showed 2,035 consumers an ad and then asked them to rate its likeability.

Later on in the survey we asked them to rate their mood, from miserable to very happy. When we cut the ratings of the ad according to the mood of the participants there was a clear pattern. Happy participants rated the ad 62% higher than the grumpy ones.

The reason for the better ad ratings isn’t clear from the research. However, our speculation is that when we’re feeling happy we’re more optimistic about the potential of an advertised brand and we focus on the positives; whether that’s the fun we’ll have with the brand or the improvements it’ll make to our lives.

In contrast, when we’re unhappy it’s the negatives that capture our attention: the likely over-claim of the ads or the opportunity cost of spending money on it.

What should you do?

The results from the research are easily applied to your media campaign. There are long-standing approaches to reach people likely to be in a good mood. IPA Touchpoints, for example, identifies moments when consumers have a greater likelihood of being in a good mood.

Even better, there are now digital targeting opportunities to reach people when they’re happy, rather than when they are just more likely to be happy. Twitter for example lets you target users when they have used a celebratory emoji.

Hopefully advertisers that spend more of their money reaching happy consumers might, like the restaurants on a sunny day, benefit from better customer feedback.


Richard Shotton is deputy head of evidence at Manning Gottlieb OMD (Twitter: @rshotton); Laura Maclean is evidence assistant

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