The Science of Viral Ads

brand-as-business bit:  What makes an ad something people want to share with others?  Is there a secret formula for making ads that are most likely to be shared?

The March issue of the Harvard Business Review included a report by Harvard prof Thales Teixeira who tracked viewers’ eye movements and facial expressions while watching ads.  He outlined five ways to get and keep people engaged with ads, including:

“Build an emotional roller coaster. Viewers are most likely to continue watching a video ad if they experience emotional ups and downs.”

The HBR recently published reactions to the report including mine:

These findings overlook two important factors in ad effectiveness:  branded recall and conversion.  If an ad is liked and passed along but the brand is forgotten or no further action is taken by the viewer, the ad may generate buzz but will do little to build the brand or the business.

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