The metrics our industry emphasizes, namely “views” or “impressions,” are vaguely defined and intentionally propped up in order to keep advertising prices low. As a result, we face a trend in which our content and campaigns are less correlated to what people want to actually pay attention to and engage with. A brand can generate engagement and interaction by being divisive, and prompting debate and response, and this type of content is often quick and cheap to produce, but will it really help shift the company’s bottom line in the end?
New research from a Pinterest study makes a strong claim that the answer to this question is no — rather negative environments make people less likely to remember, less likely to trust, and less likely purchase from brands. The platform packaged up its findings in a guide to help brands show up in a more positive environment — one that drives impact at every stage of the purchase funnel.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the key findings.
Creating a halo effect
Pinterest’s latest research finds that showing up in a more positive environment online drives impact at virtually every stage of the purchase funnel. Specifically, on the platform you can reach more than 400 million people all over the world in a more positive environment.
“Anger and divisiveness may encourage people to scroll (and troll!). But they don’t get people to buy…Our research shows that positive online environments have a halo effect on the brands that show up there—from awareness and sentiment to trust and purchase,” the company stated.
Over half (60%) of more than 2,000 respondents agree they are more likely to remember brands they encounter online when they feel positive, feel more positive when they are engaging with a brand in a positive environment, trust the brands they see in a positive space, and be more inclined to follow through with a purchase. In short, with positive social media, consumers are more incentivized to try new products and interact in new experiences. Negative spaces, on the opposite side of the spectrum, are draining brand dollars.
A diminishing tolerance for negativity
A particularly stressful and emotional 2020, faced with a global pandemic and election season — people crave positivity more than ever. They want a more inspired internet and this is reflected by an uptick in trending positive searches including, “spread positivity” (up 3x), “positive habits” and “positive mindset” botch of which are up nearly 60 percent.
Consumers are looking to brands to lead the change and it begins with being astutely aware of negative neighboring content and not turning a blind eye to the context in which your business appears. Two in three adults surveyed agree it’s a brand’s responsibility to advertise in safe, positive places and avoid negative content. This includes appearing next to misinformation such as health or election content and implied endorsements in which a brand or ad appears alongside harmful content. Put simply, one of the most important questions your brand can ask itself today is “where are our ads showing up?
Leading with policy and feel-good content
Pinterest argues that a positive platform begins with policy. This gives your brand a place of reference and clarity when making decisions about the types of content to share and promote or not. Some may make the case that ad policies are simply constraints to creativity, but in reality, they can be sources of opportunity to unlock even more positive creative and, in turn, more effective advertising.
In a case study shared as part of the guide, Pinterest pointed to Shapermint who worked with the platform to create ads featuring women of a wide range of body types to take its message of body-positive to the next level. Models were figuratively and literally in a positive light thorough sizing callouts directly on the Pin, clear CTAs to streamline shopping, and bright, warm filters capturing models’ natural ease and confidence. The campaign was a huge success yielding 200M impressions per quarter.
Separately, Pinterest recently worked with the Laughing Cow to promote its revamped brand purpose, packaging, and reformulated recipe. The video blended creative logo placement to subtly drive its message, playful branding and product imagery, and copy that clearly depicted its brand purpose, the light snack that keeps you laughing,” in a memorable and lighthearted tone. The result? The video Pin completion rate was nearly half (47%) more efficient than the food industry benchmark, underscoring the influence of standard video ads that align with positive content.
The need for human-first, experience-driven content imbued with positivity is much more than an argument of morality. This year and beyond, brands that prioritize positive context will see needle-moving results and on top of this, likely save some extra ad dollars in the process. Whether building brand awareness, consumer trust, or driving conversions, it pays to make proactive policy decisions and take a hard look at where your messages are appearing.
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