Ace Metrix Reveals How to Win a Cannes Lion

White Paper Uncovers the Emotional DNA of Award-Winning Ads

LOS ANGELES – Ace Metrix, the leader in measuring the impact of video advertising, has released a groundbreaking study that reveals which emotional patterns offer advertisers a higher probability of taking home a Cannes Lion. Using machine learning together with advanced Natural Language Processing, this study is the first quantitative analysis of its kind to measure the emotion behind Cannes Lion winning creative.

“If an advertiser’s objective is to win a Lion, this study can help inform them of whether their ad has the emotional profile of a Cannes winner, and help increase their odds”

The study proves that there are unique emotional profiles among Cannes-winners that separate them from non-winners and that the likelihood of winning a Cannes Lion can be predicted based on these profiles. However, the study also revealed that the ads that won at Cannes were not always ads that were appealing to viewers. And in fact, Cannes-winning ads were at times off-putting to traditional audiences and did not have a brand-forward message.

This analysis yielded additional noteworthy findings, including:

  • The ability to identify which emotional patterns offer advertisers a higher probability of identifying winning creative. Ace Metrix broke the ads into 28 clusters determined by their characteristics and found that ten of the clusters represent more than 90 percent of Cannes-winning ads and five of the clusters contain nearly two-thirds. By clustering ads based on common emotional reactions, ads that fall in some of these clusters have a greater than 20x chance of being a Cannes-winner than an ad picked at random.
  • A growing disconnect between what Cannes Lion juries view as a successful ad vs. what viewers like and/or meets traditional brand objectives. This disconnect forces brands to prioritize one over the other, as it is difficult to accomplish both.
  • Four main emotional clusters house a high percentage of the winners. Ads that were universally funny account for 7 percent of the Cannes winners; ads that created a sense of confusion for the viewer accounted for 14 percent of winning ads; heartfelt, storytelling ads accounted for an additional 7 percent of winning ads. Surprisingly, ads deemed annoying made up 20 percent of Cannes winners. These ads are often polarizing with high ‘hate’ scores but they do succeed in grabbing attention.
  • Ace Metrix found that Cannes-winners are less focused on communicating positive brand attributes in favor of creating strong emotional reactions in viewers – many being negative or shocking.
  • Ace Metrix applied the same research methodology to test 2017 Cannes-winners to validate their technique. Results between 2011-2016 and 2017 were consistent.

“Clearly, it’s difficult to win at Cannes. But across years, and different juries, we have uncovered specific and predictable emotions that are rewarded with a Lion. We also unmask the growing differences between what is awarded by Cannes Juries, and key brand objectives based on reactions of the viewing public. This research raises the question for brands – is it more important to win a Cannes Lion or meet your branding objectives?” said Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix.

For this study, Ace Metrix analyzed more than ten million actual viewer free-response verbatim reactions to video ads. The study reviewed Cannes Lions Film category winners from 2011 to 2016 as well as tens of thousands of non-Cannes winners from Ace Metrix’s syndicated database over a similar time period – more than 25,000 ads in total. Each ad was tested with a unique set of 500 viewers.

“If an advertiser’s objective is to win a Lion, this study can help inform them of whether their ad has the emotional profile of a Cannes winner, and help increase their odds,” continued Daboll.

Read Ace Metrix’s full findings and download the paper, here.

About Ace Metrix

Ace Metrix® is the standard in television and digital video analytics, dedicated to measuring the impact of video ad creative. We provide data and insights to enable marketers and creative teams to produce more impactful work, test and adjust creative executions in real-time, and understand what creative drivers impact their brand KPI’s. The Company is privately held and is backed by leading venture capital firms and industry leaders including Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Palomar Ventures, Leapfrog Ventures and WPP.

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