Millennial men the most emotional while watching video ads

Earlier this month, Unruly released some surprising research that found young men to be the demographic group most likely to feel intense emotional reactions to video content

Millennial men have the highest emotional reaction in 14 of the 18 different psychological responses identified and measured by Unruly’s predictive tool, Unruly ShareRank. According to Unruly’s research, 18- to 34-year-old males are more likely to get angry (more than 39 percent), sexually aroused (more than 102 percent), and exhilarated (more than 18 percent) while watching video ads than any other group. They are also more likely to feel happiness (more than 7 percent), fear (more than 38 percent), nostalgic (more than 11 percent), pride (more than 23 percent), and inspiration (more than 9 percent).

Other key findings from Unruly’s research include:

  • Males aged 18 to 34 were most likely to feel contempt (more than 38 percent), shock (more than 35 percent), pride (more than 23 percent), amazement (more than 18 percent), hilarity (more than 15 percent), knowledge (more 12 percent), and confusion (more 7 percent) than the average U.S. user.
  • Women aged 18 to 24 were the least nostalgic of all the groups – 14 percent lower than average. Additionally, they had the best brand recall of any group: 4 percent higher than the norm.
  • Women older than 55 are most likely to feel intense feelings of warmth (12 percent), sadness (11 percent), and surprise (8 percent). Their 55-and-over male counterparts were most likely to feel disgust (18 percent) at an ad’s content.
  • The intensity of Millennial men’s emotional reactions was, on average, 13 percent higher than that of millennial women. 

So why does all this matter?

The data also suggests that around 70 percent of viewers who experienced an intense emotional response to an ad were very likely to buy the product. This mirrors recent research from Dr. Karen Nelson-Field, director at the Centre for Digital Video Intelligence, who found that ads which elicit strong emotional reactions are twice more likely to be shared than those that elicit weak responses. In addition, a study by Pringle & Field found that “emotional campaigns outperform on almost every metric,” including profitability.

Dr. Stephen Curry – New Degree Dry Spray Specialist 

At the recent IAB MIXX Conference, Richard Kosinski, Unruly’s U.S. president, and Greg Manago, the leader of creative development and production at Mindshare, demonstrated how they used the above emotional insights to create Dr. Stephen Curry – New Degree Dry Spray Specialist. This was then distributed in a variety of video player formats and functions, and targeted using custom audiences to reach Millennial males to ensure that the Degree Men’s Deodorant campaign maximized viewer engagement and earned media.

The results

Below are the Unruly custom audiences charts that show the emotions and purchase intent elicited by the video ad, either without filter or with filter of 25-to 34-year-old men, Degree’s target audience.

The first chart shows the top four positive emotions and the top four negative emotions without any age range or genders selected.


The second chart shows the intensity of positive emotions changed when we switch from non-filtered to the target.


Knowledge remained the most prominent positive emotion for the target, but it was more spread out amongst hilarity, surprise, and amazement, possibly due to familiarity with the pro basketball player and seeing him in this situation. This scene-by-scene graph also shows that the target audience felt these positive emotions more intensely at different times than the general audience.

You will also notice that the target audience did not experience much confusion, as compared to the non-filtered general audience. Males ages 25 to 44 were also more likely to share on Facebook and WhatsApp.

Both the third chart and fourth chart show sociographic differences. The target shows greater advocacy – would watch again, share, and so on – than the general audience.


For social motivations, you’ll see that opinion-seeking and social utility are high motivations for both audiences. However, shared passion was much more prevalent among 25- to 44-year-old males.

In conclusion

As Kosinski puts, understanding how and why different viewers react to video content is so important for marketers. Consumers who are more emotionally engaged with a branded video are more likely to share the video, more likely to remember the brand, and most importantly, are more likely to buy the product. For marketers, this means more engagement, more earned media, and ultimately more sales.

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