How Mars measures the emotional impact of video ads using AI technology

Everyone has seen it: online surveys with simple questions like “how did you find this ad?” or “Does this ad increase your purchase opportunities?” These surveys, an important part of what’s called ad pre-testing, may be marketable to marketers, but sometimes they don’t have a complete picture when it comes to evaluating the true impact of a video ad in the ad results.

In recent months, Mars has been experimenting with new technologies that take into account typical digital measurement techniques, paying more attention to the viewer’s emotional response while watching the ad. The last tactic is something the company behind Mars Petcare, Mars Food, and Mars Wrigley increasingly sees as needed in an attention-hungry world where ad durations are dwindling and there is little time for a full version. the brand. This is a strategy that also aims to differentiate the consumer goods giant from its competitors who also want to improve the efficiency of operations based on media and data.

Launched in July 2020 after a five-year pregnancy process, the Agile Creative Expertise (ACE) solution has already been used to analyze more than 450 content. Mars expects to have more than 1,000 units by 2021, a spokesman said. The tool is predominantly video-centric and covers everything from six-second commercials and social media stories to longer TV-style formats.

ACE measures traditional digital behavior – bounce rates, click-through rates, and picture views – as well as the facial expressions of people watching a video using an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm. AI technology, based on authorization as a privacy consideration, can recognize up to 150 different emotions. According to Patilinet, this doesn’t mean facial recognition because it doesn’t identify faces on an individual level. Instead, it tracks eye and lip movement, sets it to a particular sensation, ie “happy” or “sad” and then collects the data to give you an idea of ​​the overall reaction to a video. These tips tell Mars whether a particular campaign is working or not, it must be changed or removed completely.

Faster response

Mars relies on several external partners to power ACE. Nielsen is working on broader laboratory evaluations, while Realeyes is helping with mobile measurements. Google and Medicom are also involved in the initiative and provide benchmarks for the solution. But the Patilinet team eventually converts the external results into their own Mars number, which is then interpreted, limited, and shared internally to see what ads are needed.

As agility remains one of the biggest marketing words in the pandemic, the ability to customize messages in real-time can be helpful. But ACE is part of a larger transformation at Mars, where marketers seek to make a clearer connection between brand messaging and sales with their own technology. In July, Mars Wrigley launched an Accelerating Impulse Moments (AIM) platform that applies learning and discovery data and testing to drive impulse buying at retailers.

Create resonance

At the same time, traditional media formats – think great TV ads – have helped Mars brands like M&M and Skittles become cultural icons. Cable cutting has been accelerating rapidly as consumer patience with longer ads is eroding due to the proliferation of ad-free streaming options.

“The industry is evolving towards shorter formats. It’s true when you think about it, but it’s also true with data – it’s very difficult to build an emotional story in six seconds,” said Patilinet.

Mars was one of the first companies to run six-second TV commercials a few years ago and has continued to experiment with emerging video offerings that recognized the need to capture viewers instantly. Since improving these tactics is a daunting task, ACE can be an important element in ensuring that the message gets connected.