Guest Blog:
Kayla Velnoskey
Director of Research

As the relationship between brands and consumers has evolved to become increasingly personal, advertisers have begun to contribute to — and even lead — the conversations that shape our cultural values. Moving beyond what was once a purely transactional relationship, socially conscious brands are now leveraging their platforms to engage with consumers on a much deeper level in order to weave their messaging into the very fabric of society, changing it for the better. To be truly effective at forging the connection between brands and consumers, content must align with the spirit of the times and capture consumers’ current values, because advertising that feels out of touch, regressive, or inauthentic can damage this critical relationship. 

SeeHer has led the charge in helping brands and content creators connect with their audience over a shared value of gender equality. While a movement is reverberating throughout the nation to recognize and celebrate the diverse lives of women, media and advertising sometimes fails to portray women accurately, respectfully, and positively. Over the last few years, SeeHer’s Gender Equality Measure (GEM®) has given socially conscious marketers the ability to answer a critical question in service of closing this gap: Does my content accurately portray women and girls? By quantifying the gap between the portrayal of women in media and consumers’ expectations for representation, GEM® has given SeeHer’s partners the ability to make tremendous strides towards their gender equality goals.

SeeHer’s groundbreaking development of GEM® has successfully answered the question of whether or not ads are authentically representing women. As advertisers look to continue advancing the movement, new questions are now emerging: Which specific elements of my creative are most effective in promoting authentic portrayals of women? What elements consistently work across multiple pieces of creative? These questions represent the next evolution in the movement to advance beyond knowing what content is working and into understanding the why and how of creating gender equitable content. Answering these new questions will give brands the ability to develop a creative blueprint for content that they know will meet their gender equality goals before the campaign even launches.

To tackle these essential new questions, SeeHer is exploring the innovative field of emotion analytics. Decades of research in psychology and neuroscience have shown that emotions are the driving force in how we make decisions and form the beliefs that influence our values, so we must look to emotion to understand why consumers think what they think. As the preeminent neuroscientist Antonio Damasio once said, “We are not thinking machines. We are feeling machines that think.” As the Director of Research at Dumbstruck, a leading emotion analytics company focused on applying emotion analytics to advertising effectiveness, I am passionate about this opportunity to help SeeHer develop the next key tool for content creators to advance the gender equality movement. 

It may seem that measuring precisely how much emotion someone is feeling is an impossible task, but human beings have actually evolved to express their internal emotions externally on their faces to communicate with others. In the 1960s, Dr. Paul Ekman discovered that facial expressions of core human emotions occur spontaneously in response to our emotional reactions to experiences. And, while it was Ekman who first developed the system for manually coding and quantifying these universal facial expressions, the advent of artificial intelligence ushered in a new era for the science of quantifying emotions.  

Using AI-powered facial coding and eye-gaze technology, Dumbstruck is able to access and quantify the moment by moment emotional experiences of consumers as they view an advertisement. Our proprietary algorithms then combine this powerful emotional response data with the GEM® methodology to determine which scenes are critical to creating GEM® positive content. This analysis reveals not only which specific scenes are key to the effectiveness of a particular advertisement, but also reveals creative trends that brands can use in the future to hit the mark of gender equality with each new piece of content. 

With GEM®, SeeHer has developed a critical tool for advertisers which has become the industry standard for identifying gender equitable content. Through this tool, SeeHer has proven that gender equality in advertising is good for consumers and good for business. Using emotion analytics, SeeHer is paving the way for their partners to advance the movement by taking a data-driven approach to gender equality upstream in the creative process. Emotion analytics holds the key to developing the blueprint for accurate, respectful, and positive presentation of women and girls in advertising. And because values are founded on beliefs, and beliefs are founded on emotions, unlocking the blueprint to gender equitable ads is also the key to creating more effective socially conscious advertising. 

Through understanding emotion, we can understand not only how to eliminate gender bias in advertising and media, but why gender equitable advertising strengthens the core relationships between consumers and the brands that share their values. 

For more information about Dumbstruck, please visit: www.dumbstruck.com