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The Use of Rational vs Emotional Persuasion in Advertising

Stephen Gnall 11 Oct 2016 • 3 mins read

Emotion-oriented messaging for the sort-of watchers

It should come as little surprise in today’s media-proliferated, multi-platform world, that the average human attention span has dropped to an all-time low. The fact that consumers now spend shorter intervals concentrating on specific distractions isn’t what’s interesting though. It’s the new way many buyers are behaving inside of those micro-moments that’s intriguing.

From the 1960’s through to the early 1970’s, nearly half of all television viewers reported that they watched commercial advertisements attentively. Today, the audience splits three ways. You still have a.) attentive viewers and b.) viewers that ignore/avoid commercials at all costs. But the other 1/3 of the audience now consists of c.) people who sort-of watch commercials, or the sort-of watchers.

Let’s look at one of today’s most popular debates: the argument between rational vs emotional persuasion’s effectiveness in commercials and advertising. There are popular studies that suggest viewers pay more attention to commercials that favour rational persuasion. And that’s likely true. But is requiring more from the audience necessarily a good thing?

Emotionally driven messaging is easier to process.

Hyper-connectivity has sparked a mass, social neurosis among content consumers. Bombarded by information from all directions, at all times, consumers are terrified of missing out. Missing out on the latest trend, sale, meme, sound bite or video clip. So, while these sort-of watchers may not always give advertisements their undivided attention, they do give them some attention. Sort-of watchers may also be posting a status update to Facebook or downloading a podcast, but a part of them is still casually aware of the commercial playing the background.

Emotionally driven messaging is easier to process. And just because emotion-oriented content requires less attentiveness (a shorter attention span) to consciously process doesn’t automatically make it less effective. Rather, it’s a way of removing complexity from a brand’s approach, making it easier for a growing number of sort-of watchers out there to absorb, retain and ultimately recall because the content was easy and enjoyable to consume.

AMBA specialises in taking complexity out of advertising. By removing the clutter and upping the creative ante on emotionally resonate content, we’re using neuroscience and imaginative executions to drive the likability of the brand stories we tell whilst making them easier than ever for the sort-of watcher to digest. People are looking for short cuts. We’re emotional beings who occasionally think. Shrinking attention spans are not on the rebound. Learning to connect and drive growth with likable, distinct content isn’t just a trend – it’s what modern advertising has become.

The change agents at AMBA are always available for a chat regarding your business challenges. No need to wait, get in touch with us today – and let’s start growing.