26/05/2016 06:33 BST | Updated 26/05/2017 06:12 BST

Of Mice and Mood - How Brands Can Benefit From Mood Advertising

Websites regularly gather insights by monitoring what customers click on. But now they can judge our emotions from how we move our mouse.

Websites regularly gather insights by monitoring what customers click on. But now they can judge our emotions from how we move our mouse.

Jeff Jenkins, assistant Professor of Information Systems at Brigham Young University, conducted three experiments on this topic among 271 participants. His team manipulated the emotions of participants and then tracked how they scrolled their mouse as they browsed an e-commerce site. They found that the mouse movements were more jagged and sudden when participants were in a bad mood.

"Using this technology websites will no longer be dumb," Jenkins claims, "they can go beyond just presenting information, but they can sense you. They can understand not just what you're providing, but what you're feeling,"

Should mood targeting interest brands?

It's interesting academic research, but why should advertisers care? Well, it brings closer the day when brands can target consumers by their mood. That's exciting as happy people are more receptive to ads.

Zenith worked with students from the University of Lancaster to quantify the effect. In our experiment participants were shown ads after either being exposed to happy or sad stimuli. Those shown happy stimuli were 9% more likely than other respondents to say they would use the advertised product in the future.

Our findings are supported by other experiments. Fred Bronner, a psychologist at the University of Amsterdam, measured the effect of mood on ad recall amongst 1,287 participants. The participants flicked through a newspaper and then answered questions about which ads they remembered. When the data was split by the reader's mood the results were conclusive: readers in a good mood remembered 28% more ads than those in a bad mood.

Why are people in a good mood more receptive to ads?

Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Prize winning psychologist, has provided an evolutionary explanation for this phenomenon. When we're in a good mood it signifies the absence of danger and, therefore, mitigates against the need to think critically. We're therefore far more likely to absorb ad messages when we're happy.

When advertisers can target people according to their mouse movements they should seize the opportunity. Until then they'll have to make do with targeting moments when people have a propensity to be happy.

This can be achieved by weather targeting, reaching people during enjoyable events, like a cinema trip, or simply focusing on appropriate day-parts. For example, according to IPA TouchPoints people tend to be in a better mood during evenings and on Friday and Saturdays.

Hopefully, using these mood targeting tactics will lead to some happy clients.