Much of the research that we do at Hearst is focused on understanding the nature of positivity and how the reality of being positive impacts our behaviour. We know it works!
In fact, we have proved that consumers of our brands, such as Cosmopolitan, ELLE and Men’s Health, for example, have a more positive mindset than the general public. It seems that positive people are attracted to our titles and that, in turn, our content generates more positivity in those who consume our media. A virtuous positivity circle, if you like.
This is a significant finding, and it allows us to talk authoritatively about driving positivity as a key part of Hearst’s purpose. Our mantra, after all, is to help everyone to get more out of life.
But how does our audience positivity impact our commercial partners? What is the upside for them in all this?
In our original research which has gone on to win Gold in the 2019 international FIPP insight awards for Best Commercial Outcome, we discovered that people who have a? positive mindset are more receptive to messaging in advertising and that favourability towards, and consideration of brands was higher in this more positive cohort after exposure to commercial messaging.
These were very encouraging findings and confirmed our suspicions that we had about the impact of Hearst’s media brands. As the next logical step in this journey, we have been working towards generating further findings which can enhance our understanding of the impact of a positive environment. ?
We have been carrying out a raft of advertising effectiveness studies over the course of 2019 that seek to understand the effects that our commercial partners’ activity in our titles has had on their brands. As part of a small selection of these studies, we have also been asking questions which allow us to identify groups who are more or less positive than the average Hearst consumer. We were keen to look at the outcomes for advertisers across these two groups to see what impact a heightened sense of positivity is having on commercial outcomes for brands.
The results have been very interesting and – to some extent – mixed. It seems that, as ever, the creative used and the specific product sector can be an important factor in determining brand outcomes.
But one area of measurement where the scores for the more positive respondents are consistently and significantly higher than those for the less positive respondents is in the area of actions taken, subsequent to seeing the advertising.
We consistently see higher levels of actions taken as a result of seeing advertising amongst those with a more positive mindset.
Actions taken in this context include: talking to people about the product; carrying out further research into the product; recommending the product to someone else; considering purchasing the product and actually purchasing it. All hard measures of real behaviour (albeit claimed behaviour).
This is a compelling finding and one which does seem to make logical sense. If you are positive then you are motivated to move forward and action-orientated – and being exposed to brand messaging, within a positive environment, for brands which fit well within that environment leads to action being taken. Great news for our advertisers. And great news for us. Positivity drives action and advertising in a positive environment, with positive people more likely to take action (and Hearst’s consumers are 19% more likely to be positive than the average Brit).
How this positive mindset, and Hearst’s positive brand environment, impacts our partner’s brands’ image over time we have yet to see. In 2020 we will be building this new metric into our advertising effectiveness surveys to try to understand whether, as well as driving action, the power of positivity is also impacting brand image. Our ultimate goal will be to understand the impact of commercial activity in positive media environments on a brand’s P&L so that we can move towards a truer and more useful measure of effectiveness.
Watch this space – we’ll be sharing as soon as we have anything to say!
Work with us to discover the impact of advertising in positive environments