Emotional digital ads drive brand lift and recall

Emotional digital ads drive brand lift and recall Duncan is an award-winning technology industry analyst, specialising in cloud computing, blockchain, martech and edge computing.


Pinterest and System1, a specialist in advertising effectiveness, have released the latest research on digital advertising’s impact on brands and best practices for creating effective digital ads.

Analysing 50 Pinterest ads revealed that digital ads that create more positive emotional response lead to greater changes in behaviour and engage attention better, therefore making them more memorable. Additionally, digital ads with rapid, clear branding that cause an intense emotional response lead to greater ad recall. 

System1’s Test Your Ad platform assigns a 1 to 5.9-Star Rating based on the emotional response viewers have to the ad, which demonstrates an ad’s ability to drive long-term growth. It also provides a Spike Rating, derived from the strength of branding and the intensity of the emotional response, which predicts short-term sales potential. 

Digital ads with a higher-than-average Star Rating yielded six times more brand lift, specifically action intent. These ads also generated 20% greater ad recall. Meanwhile, ads with a higher-than-average Spike Rating (earned through rapid branding and high emotional intensity) lead to significant ad awareness uplift and 3 times greater action intent. 

Consider the following tips to develop ads that are more likely to engage audiences and support both brand building and sales activation. 

  • Brand Early – The majority of digital ads are viewed for less than 2 seconds, according to research from Amplified Intelligence. Well branded emotional assets increase effectiveness across the board. The research found a strong significant correlation between Star Rating, Spike Rating, Brand Fluency and Asset Dwell Time and Pin Awareness Lift. To boost effectiveness, brand early.
  • Appeal to the Right Brain – The right hemisphere of the brain has a broader sense of attention than the left. Right-brain features such as a clear sense of place, characters, and distinctive assets support long-term brand building. The research found that assets that are more right brained resulted in a 90% average increase in brand favourability.
  • Use Culture Moments – Referencing shared cultural moments in work (holiday gifting, Halloween or large sporting events) can tap into memory structures, thereby increasing emotional intensity and brand action intent. Tapping into trends or interests on Pinterest have similar effects. These references can also make viewing digital creative feel more like a shared experience, which increases positive emotions and long-term effectiveness.
  • Leverage Fluent Devices – Fluent Devices (recurring characters and scenarios) are another useful right-brained feature. They support quick brand recognition, which is especially key for lower-attention channels. Plus,Fluent Devices also reinforce memory structures, thereby supporting long-term effectiveness.
  • Continue the Story – The best Pins are visually compelling, tell a good story and make people want to learn more. Whatever Pin format you choose, whether it’s a static image or a video, incorporate solid lighting, great framing, high-resolution assets or stylised effects and/or text to engage your audience.

“Pinterest is in a unique position as its users come to the platform with intent, searching for specific needs and products, using narrow-beam attention, while also using the platform for- discovery, using their broad-beam attention,” said Orlando Wood, chief innovation officer, System1. “This research gives brands a better understanding of how to engage consumers in a world that’s now fueling increasingly shorter attention spans.”  

Antoine Le Notre, head of measurement EMEA, Pinterest, said: “People aren’t coming to Pinterest to be passively entertained. They’re full of intent, and are looking for inspiration for ideas to do, try and buy in real life – giving brands the ideal opportunity to engage with their audiences in one of the most positive places on the internet. While traditionally advertisers have found it easier to focus on products rather than showcasing the emotional benefits they bring, this new research with System1 indicates that it is worthwhile for brands to also speak to people’s right brain and that emotions are key for an ad to be memorable, but also crucially to drive incremental action intent.”

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person? Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.

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