Can emotional performance predict the social success of your automotive ad?

Automotive Study

Ads and branded content for car companies have produced some of the most memorable viral videos in recent years. Examples such as Volkswagen’s ‘The Force’, and Volvo’s Van Damme ‘The Split’ experiment have taken the internet by storm. Other companies have followed their lead, choosing to invest heavily in their video content in the search for that special viral ingredient. Yet social success is often far more elusive than simply spending more money on your creative.

The Brief

We embarked on an industry-wide investigation to reveal the common factors that have made automotive ads successful in the past, and establish which emotional trends drive success or failure. The goal was to identify the most significant trends, which determined social performance.

Our Approach

We collected social media data for more than 100 ads already in our database and tested an additional 30 ads from 2013, including successes such as the Volvo Truck Experiments, and campaigns for Audi and Volkswagen.

Emotional Analysis

Our EmotionAll® score, based on engagement, attention, retention and impact metrics, lies at the heart of our investigation. The correlation between high emotional performance and high social performance was very clear – ads with a high EmotionAll® score garnered significantly more views and engendered more social actions than lower scoring videos.

Ads with high EmotionAll® performance have 143% more YouTube views, and nearly 650% more social actions.

Three Drivers of Success

1. Maintain engagement
Ads with over 30% audience engagement in the last third performed well – whereas ads which showed a significant decline in engagement in the first 10-20s floundered.

2. Have a strong finish
Ending on a high ensured a greater impact. If negative emotions were evoked, whether deliberately or otherwise, resolving them so that positive feeling outweighed the negative ensured high retention.

3. Make women happy
Interestingly we found women were key drivers of sociall performance. High levels of happiness in women at the end of the advert made the video much more likely to succeed on the web. 


There are definite performance criteria to success in the social sphere. These insights provide clear guidelines for content creators and marketing managers to use as part of their decision-making processes. Automotive benchmarks provide an ongoing comparative performance, and the predictive nature of emotional performance can be utilised by marketers to understand whether their content has viral potential.


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