By Lucid Fusion June 10, 2016

“Yes, but how do we make it…sexier?”

If you’re in the marketing or advertising world, you’ve probably spent a fair amount of time sitting around a conference room table puzzling over this very question. Sex sells, right? As marketers, writers, designers, developers, strategists—and even as consumers—we’ve been primed to acknowledge this as a universal truth. It doesn’t even matter if sexiness is an inherent or realistic attribute of whatever it is that you’re selling—creating mystique and evoking emotions of desire for ordinary or fundamentally unsexy ideas, products, or industries has long been every marketer’s Everest. At least, it was. Now there’s a whole new mountain to climb.

New research from Google reveals that, for women, it’s actually not sex appeal that generates the most viewer attention and engagement—it’s empowerment. In fact, the top 10 empowering ads on YouTube were two-and-a-half times less likely to be skipped than their peers. Additionally, women ages 18-34 are twice as likely to think highly of a brand that made an empowering ad, and nearly 80% more likely to like, share, comment, and subscribe after watching one.

This data may represent women specifically, but it’s a fact that ALL consumers are looking for brands that can make that special, personal connection. It’s the brands that successfully create and deploy empowering content that will leave the right impression and win the trust of their biggest brand advocates.

Here are 3 ways to get it done.

1. Keep it Real

The key to any great story is authenticity, and today’s consumers are better than ever at sniffing out brands that are faking it. Not only do 80% of consumers say that authenticity of content is the most influential factor in their decision to follow a brand, 90% want to do business with brands that share their beliefs—this is true for both men and women. In order to create content that empowers, brands need to dig in and define…well, a whole bunch of things. What does your brand stand for? Who is your brand made for? What specific value can you provide? Where are your customers and what’s the best way to reach them? Once you’ve figured all this stuff out you’ll not only be able to tell stories that are genuine and personal, but you’ll know exactly what stories will resonate with specific consumers within your entire consumer base—and that means more effective, impressive marketing overall.

2. Explore What’s Possible Through Technology

Google’s experts think one big reason these empowering YouTube ads are finding success is that there’s more room for creative freedom. In breaking free from the constraints of the 30- or 60-second TV spot, brands have more ways to tell stories that build engagement and strengthen consumer interactions—and that’s across all the channels consumers are waiting and watching. Platforms like Snapchat, for example, are enabling brands to provide new interactive or immersive branded experiences. This represents a huge opportunity for marketers because Snapchat’s user numbers have officially surpassed those of Twitter. In general, the rapid pace of developing technology means that the potential to reach more and more consumers will just keep growing; it’s only the savvy brands (the ones paying constant attention to the latest trends and capabilities) that will be able to maximize the impact of their content with all of the consumers who matter.

3. Always Be Testing

There are tons of variables involved in creating content that resonates. Google discovered this when they partnered with L’Oréal Paris to test how storytelling influences different demographics. While Google’s experiment did provide some responses that were expected (older viewers responding to traditional, commercial-quality ads rather than how-tos, for example) there were definitely some interesting and unexpected findings. Indeed, the how-to ad was the clear winner for overall click through across all demographics—an outcome that nobody could have predicted based on either existing demographics data or data generated within their experiment. As consumers become more tech-savvy, needs and expectations will change. The only way for brands to keep up is to test regularly and never bank on assumptions.

While emotionally-charged content is still integral to engaging consumers, it’s clear that capturing the right emotion is the difference between getting someone’s attention and earning someone’s advocacy. Brands that are able to hone in on what their products, services, or ideas provide consumers (beyond sex appeal) can effectively empower those consumers with value that is actionable and represents a personal connection. This engagement leaves the kind of impression that creates a positive, lasting, and successful brand legacy—and that’s pretty darn sexy if you ask us.


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