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acemetrix-effectiveness-of-funny-tv-ads-july2012.pngFunny TV ads appear to be more likable to consumers, but that does not necessarily make them more persuasive or effective, according to [download page] an Ace Metrix study released in July. Measuring humor against likability, there is a 0.31 correlation, indicating that the more consumers perceive an ad to be funny, the more they find it likeable. There is also a positive correlation with attention (0.30) and watchability (0.15). But, consumers see funny ads as less informative (-0.22 correlation), and are less likely to change (-0.07) or desire (-0.08) brands because of a funny ad.

The AceMetrix report, “Is Funny Enough? An Analysis of the Impact of Humor in Advertisements,” compared ads’ Ace Scores (a proprietary and composite measurement of ad effectiveness) against the company’s newly-created Funny Index (see methodological data below for a description of the index). Both Ace Scores and the Funny Index range between 1 and 950, with Ace Scores centering around 530. The scores allowed a 1-to-1 comparison of humor and effectiveness.

Funniest Ads Not So Effective

Ads may score significantly higher on the Funny Index than the Ace Score. For example, the ad for Chevrolet called “Misunderstanding” skewed very funny, with an index of 705, and was also above-average in informativeness, at 639. Yet it was fairly average in effectiveness, at 591. Similarly, a mildly humorous ad for Subaru (“The Weather Doesn’t Matter With A Subaru”) scored 537 on the Funny Index, but 433 in effectiveness – a gap of nearly 100 points. By contrast, the completely non-humorous “Kinect Sensor Turned Voice & Movement To Magic” ad rated 0 on the Funny Index, but above-average (683) for overall effectiveness, and well above average (718) in informativeness.

Interestingly, Nielsen observes that funny ads lose some of their appeal during economic downturns, although they remain the most appealing ad type (supported by the positive correlation with likeability in the Ace Metrix report). Nielsen in June released data finding that funny ads were 47% more appealing to consumers than the average ad pre-Recession, but just 33% more appealing during and following the recession. Sentimental ads skewed below average (being 100%) pre-recession, at 88%, and higher now at 107%. Surprisingly, price and promotion-oriented ads still skew low, at 71% pre-recession and 60% now.

Insurers Vie For “Most Humorous” Title

From a competitive perspective, humor has become industry standard for the insurance industry. The Ace Metrix report finds that Farmers, Aflac and Geico rate highest among insurers on average in the Funny Index, at 454, 442 and 401. Even so, Travelers, with the lowest Funny Index (94) ties with Aflac in average Ace Score, both with scores of 544.

Surprisingly, Allstate, with its Mayhem ads, rates fairly low on the Funny Index at 166, though fairly effective at 508. This may be due to Allstate hedging its bets with more serious ads featuring actor Dennis Haysbert, in a campaign that addresses the danger of reckless driving.

Other Findings:

  • Per the AceMetrix report, approximately 20% of TV ads are funny.
  • Ads that air during the Super Bowl measure nearly 3 times as funny as ads that debut at other times, but are no more effective.
  • The funniest ad during the period of study was for Huggies diapers, called “Baby Wets The Room,” with a Funny Index of 1214.
  • Funny ads generated nearly 9 times as many open-ended comments from Ace Metrix consumer panelists as non-humorous ads.
  • The Doritos brand has the strongest correlation between the Funny Index and Ace Score, with 635 versus 631. Clorox Laundry is second at 585 and 550, respectively, with eBay following at 501 and 532.

About The Data: Ace Metrix studied a sample dataset of 6,500 ads between January 1, 2011 – March 31, 2012, which generated more than 1.5 million unsolicited consumer “verbatims,” being unedited comments. Ace Metrix then applied advanced semantic processing algorithms to qualify and quantify the level of humor associated with each ad, generating a “Funny Index.” The Funny Index as an objective method for determining how funny an ad is based on verbatim responses gathered for every ad. Responses were filtered by trigger words, and a score is generated using text analytics and a proprietary scoring metric, for ads that ran between. The researchers then compared Funny Index scores to its proprietary algorithms for ad testing and effectiveness.

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