The product of a collaboration with Thales S. Teixeira of the Harvard Business School, and the MIT Media Lab, this paper outlines findings generated using Affectiva’s web-based platform to better understand the role entertainment plays in advertising.

Conducted in 2012-2013, and later published in Marketing Science in 2014 ‘Why, When and How Much to Entertain Consumers in Advertisements?‘ focuses on the role positive entertainment plays: in viewing interest as well as purchase intent. The result show that there may be such thing as excessive entertainment in advertising.


The presence of positive entertainment (e.g., visual imagery, upbeat music, humor) in TV advertisements can make them more attractive and persuasive. However, little is known about the downsides of using too much entertainment. This research focuses on why, when, and how much to entertain consumers in TV advertisements. We collected data in a large-scale field experiment using 82 ads with various levels of entertainment shown to 275 consumers in their homes and workplaces. Using a novel web-based face tracking system, we continuously measure consumers’ smile responses, and viewing interest and purchase intent. A simultaneous Bayesian Hierarchical model is estimated to assess how entertainment affects purchases by endogenizing viewing interest. We find that entertainment has an inverted U-shape relationship with purchase intent. Importantly, we separate entertainment into that which is associated with the brand versus that which is not, and find that the former is directly positively associated with purchase intent while the latter is not.