Facial Imaging: The “Big-Data” Solution for Emotion Research?

September 2, 2013

We are entering an era where, thanks to technology like facial imaging, “soft-data” on emotions – traditionally the province of qualitative studies or smaller scale specialised surveys –  will become “big-data” that provides very hard results.

Facial Imaging Embeded & Automatic: nViso API in Cinemax site - 1 million views and counting

Facial Imaging Embedded & Automatic: nViso API in Cinemax site – 1 million visitors and counting

At first glance facial imaging (or “facial coding”) seems like just another variant of Neuroscience testing, but in fact it has some very different features. In earlier posts we’ve written extensively on the results obtained from this technology (e.g. see “Soft-Drinks, Soft-Sell“), but in this post I want to get across the point that the really big news is not so much how well facial imaging measures emotion, but how many people and how much emotion can be measured.  This makes it fundamentally different from hardware dependent methodologies like EEG or conventional survey based methods. Two thought experiments for market researchers might illustrate: Read the rest of this entry »

Emotion, Mothers & Milk: What Emotion Research Tells Us About Conveying Facts To Worried Mums.

August 7, 2013

Nothing resonates so emotionally with a mother as a threat to her baby. Food safety and quality concerns with infant foods have huge impact and, these days, any issue is quickly picked up and broadcast (often in simplified or exaggerated forms) over social media. Rumours spread and reputations sink. In 2008, a Melamine contamination of Sanlu brand baby formulas in China had a major impact on mothers’ perceptions of product quality especially for local brands. As I write, another infant milk contamination issue has hit Asia, this time traced to problems with powder produced by New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra. Coincidentally, AsiaEmotion has been evaluating emotional reaction to Growing-Up milk advertising in Asia, and the results have some clear lessons for those trying to rebuild confidence in the sector. (AsiaEmotion is a large scale, Pan-Asian exploration of Asian consumers emotional response to advertising, carried out by Gordon & McCallum and Cimigo ulitlising nViso’s 3D Facial Imaging technology to directly measure emotions evoked. More details can be found in earlier articles on this site, or at www.asiaemotion.com).


(Growing-Up Milk Ad: Experts give Chinese Mums the facts about quality – but puts them to sleep?)

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While the direct health consequences of the current problem seem to likely be limited, the fact that New Zealand has a “clean green” image in Asia and that it supplies milk powder both for its own brands and for other manufacturers means that the impact on reputation and trust may yet affect the whole category. What should a brand owner do under these circumstances? Clearly the first steps, learnt over many years and numerous PR disasters, are apology and transparency. Fonterra’s CEO is in China right now, doing just that. But as the public health problem fades, the issues for brands will become marketing ones: rebuilding trust and reinforcing or reigniting perceptions of quality.

I’m going to focus on a couple of Growing-Up Milk ads from China.One is for a local brand Fei He, seemingly intended to prove it is substantive, concerned with quality, and essentially  as good as “international brands” in all important respects. The other is for Dumex and is aimed at conveying its international status, reputation, and “gold standard” brand heritage. (To see the ads, and the emotive response to them,  you can click on Feihe and Dumex Gold). These commercials can be seen as a response to the earlier Melamine scandal, in that the brand owners clearly see Chinese mothers as needing reassurance about quality and reputation. Both however, appear to have failed to engage consumers, particularly in the key message sequences.  In the current context this matters – over coming months brands are going to have to convey some fairly clear messages about brand quality and reputation.  So what lessons do these ads give us.

Read the rest of this entry »

Instant Noodles in India –Tug of War or Tugging Heartstrings?

July 29, 2013

One of the fascinating things about using Facial Imaging when exposing competitive ads to the same respondents in a single category is that it provides unspoken clues about relative brand positioning issues (as FI does not rely on ‘rational’ recall or post-exposure rating).

 ToW foodles

 A brand with an inherently easy to understand positioning is more likely to get its message across clearly than a brand attempting to make consumers think about the product in a new light. Here, we see an example of an Instant Noodles brand, Horlick’s Foodles, taking on the task of provoking Indian mothers believe that instant noodles can actually be nutritious. It is done in a manner successfully demonstrated in previous posts (telling a story and building towards the main message), but the style of the execution is perhaps a little too dark. So it does not seem to reduce the high level of apprehension when the main ‘nutritious noodles’ idea is brought forward. Maggi, by contrast, takes an easily believable ‘life-saver’ message (that Maggi noodles are there and ready when you really need them) and pushes this in an engaging positive manner connected by a catchy jingle. Clever execution combines with a clear-cut positioning to evoke a strong response that builds positively.

The key lesson is if you are taking on a difficult advertising task such as proposing something that may conflict with common wisdom, the sequence and content of emotions evoked is critical.  Such ads are more likely to lose direction in emotional terms, and need more careful prior assessment. Read the rest of this entry »

Emotional Engagement & the Indonesian Consumer

July 16, 2013

In the second of the AsiaEmotion series, we look at SE Asia’s largest market, Indonesia, and show why we think advertisers have a substantial Opportunity to Improve Emotional Punch. Using nViso’s breakthrough 3D Facial Imaging, AsiaEmotion recorded emotional response to ads directly technology and so is about how people actually felt as they watched, not what they said after.

The study, completed earlier this year with leading Asian research agency Cimigo, covered 150 typical consumers in each of China, India, Vietnam, Hong Kong, & Indonesia across 75 recent and typical day-to-day commercials in high ad spend categories covering: Noodles, Shampoo, Telecom, Beer, CSD, Growing Up/Health Food Milks. The key regional takeouts can be found at 9 Essentials for Advertising in Asia on the AsiaEmotion website.

Today we’ll look at the services sector comparing ads from competitors Telkomsel and Indosat. Click the links to view the ads and some top line analysis – Telkomsel and Indosat

As a general observation based on the AsiaEmotion findings, Indonesian ads show lower emotional response than other large Asian markets. However, compared to Indonesian ads in other day-to-day categories, Telecom ads evoke about average levels of emotional response. For Telkomsel in particular, the type, build, and shape of response were better than most Indonesian ads as whole.Image

The lower “amount” of emotion may well be related to the high level of very direct product/deal promotion content in nearly all ads. Such scenes cause builds in response to plateau (Telkomsel) or drop off (especially for Indosat).

The relatively low levels of emotion evoked represent an opportunity to increase cut-through and engagement.  Telecom advertisers should consider separate distinctive strategies for brand building and product offering in order to generate more focussed executions.

When reviewing the findings, Indirect Style Beats Direct Functional Approach. Telkomsel uses a dialogue between teenage girls to introduce their key message. The ‘teenage girl’ interaction (with a nice girl vs. nasty girl slant), realistic language, and mannerisms build interest among (presumed) key target groups.

Indo Tel 2

Indosat uses a Game show format to introduce its benefits. These are brought in early, very directly and literally “shouted” at the audience. The rapid change of scenes/visuals leads to low, negative emotive response with poor coherence.

Indo Tel 4

Again, Details Matter, the Telkomsel ad seems crafted to focus on specific target groups and their concerns and behaviours. This leads to more clarity in emotional terms.

Indo Tel 3

When and how the key service offer is introduced also appears to matter – overall we find it is better to bring such offers in parallel with the story or after emotion has built.  This approach is taken by Telkomsel and looks to be more effective than in an immediate, direct recitation of the offer (as in the case of Indosat).

Reactions to specific talent can distract or annoy. The MC, or his manner, in the Indosat ad seems to annoy women.  AsiaEmotion results generally show that reactions to talent can vary markedly among sub-groups and celebrities should not be assumed as universal in their appeal.

Indo Tel 5

The Key Lesson is that despite a direct, clear recitation of benefits and brand, Indosat evokes lower and more negative emotion. It is also lower on rational measures than or Telkomsel and other telecom ads. Indonesian consumers are perhaps out-growing the overtly direct “functional” delivery in commercials

Telkomsel – the Emotional Profile

This well targeted ad succeeds at evoking positive response among Females, SES AB and young (which are the presumed target markets). It combines high emotional response with relatively high ‘rational’ ratings, the only concerning issue being that emotion takes a while to build, thus increasing the risk of channel switching

There is a marked spike in Surprise when the offer is introduced, and the combination of Surprise & Happiness at this stage indicates the offer evokes “Delight”. There are some negatives towards the end, but in context of Happiness being maintained, this likely indicates engagement and memorability

Indo Tel 6

Furthermore, there is a peak in Apprehension/Fear during branding, which may show some nervousness about the brand itself, indicating a need for brand research to determine what is driving this.

Indosat – the Emotional Profile

We see low levels of emotive response with no clear pattern and quite high negatives. (Rational responses to traditional MR questions on interest etc were also lower than others.) These erratic response patterns are associated with rapid change of scenes and messages.

The male MC and the drummer seem to particularly annoy women and although Males and SES C show more positive response, it is still not high relative to other ads tested in the market.

Indo Tel 7

Low positive and high negative response during both branding and main message sequences, raise concerns that this ad could negatively impact brand equity.

Overall then, ‘shouting out’ benefits, and getting them out up-front and early, while superficially useful tactics in the crowded media environment of Indonesian Television, may actually be counter-productive.  Subtler approaches to emotional marketing may ultimately pay bigger dividends.

In our next blog we’ll move to India and a food category – but for now if you would like any more information please contact Alastair Gordon or David McCallum. Or visit the Asia Emotion website http://www.asiaemotion.com

Soft Drinks, Soft Sell – Emotional Engagement & the Chinese Consumer

July 2, 2013

Over the next few months we’ll be blogging a special series revealing the findings from AsiaEmotion, a pan-Asia study on everyday advertising in the region’s key markets. AsiaEmotion recorded emotional response to ads directly and scientifically using nViso’s breakthrough 3D Facial Imaging technology and so is about how people actually felt as they watched, not what they said they felt after the event.
The study, completed earlier this year with leading Asian research agency Cimigo, covered 150 typical consumers in each of China, India, Vietnam, Hong Kong, & Indonesia across 75 recent and typical day-to-day commercials in high ad spend categories covering: Noodles, Shampoo, Telecom, Beer, CSD, Growing Up/Health Food Milks. The key regional takeouts can be found at 9 Essentials for Advertising in Asia on the AsiaEmotion website.
Today we’ll compare a couple of soft drink ads from China, promoting iconic brands Coke and Sprite. Click the links to view the ads and some top line analysis – Coca-Cola and Sprite. Read the rest of this entry »