Influencer ads more 'emotionally intense' and memorable than TV claims neuroscience study

First neuroscience influencer ad study finds it 277% more emotionally intense than TV ads

The results of "the world’s first" neuroscience study on influencer marketing has ruled heavily in favour of the medium over TV ads. The work, commissioned by influencer marketing agency Whalar, claimed that influencer ads were 277% more "emotionally intense" than TV ads and 87% more memorable (the two criteria the ads were measured on).

The study utilised Steady State Topography (SST) - technology used by Neuro-Insight – to try and uncover how influencers work. By using SST technology, they were able to record and measure electrical signals on the scalp, which enabled them to measure real-time responses to content.

187 respondents, who are regular Instagram, Facebook and YouTube users, took part in the study. All were grouped into one of three cells that depended on which influencers they follow on Instagram; celebrity, macro influencers or micro influencers.

Each respondent wore a headset to measure their brain waves while interacting with content from both influencer and TV, Facebook and YouTube ads. This generated a set of metrics that covered emotions valence and intensity and memory encoding.

The study found that influencer ads are significantly more emotionally intense and memorable than TV ads, with respondents experiencing 277% more emotional intensity and 87% memory encoding. Next up were Facebook ads. According to the results, influencers generated 64% more emotional intensity and 182% memory encoding.

It also found that influencers outperformed YouTube ads by 28% in emotional intensity and 73% in memory encoding. Moreover, the results also showed that if consumers are exposed to an influencer ad before the TV, FB or YT ad from the same campaign, they are 58% more likely to feel positive towards the TV, FB or TV ad, and 47% more likely to remember it.

Discussing the findings, Ian Forrester, Whalar's senior vice-president research and analytics, said: ‘’Furthermore, the priming effect of influencer on TV, FB and YT is huge.

"Without first being primed by influencer, responses to TV, FB and YT ads were generally negative, and after being primed by influencer they were positive. This is a massive shift, indicative that influencer should play a pivotal role in campaign strategy and media mix.’’ ​ -

Neuro-Insights chief exec, Shazia Ginai added: ‘’Influencer is growing incredibly quickly, and Whalar recognised the need to not only understand what is driving this and how it can benefit brands, but also the huge merit in looking beyond conscious responses. We’re thrilled to have partnered with them on such groundbreaking work.’’ ​

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