How Do You Feel About Mood-vertising?

Beware. Your answer to this question may influence the content you receive.

For the past couple of years, media companies have been experimenting with targeting readers based on their mood. Recently, organizations like the New York Times, USA Today and ESPN began selling advertising based on the “mood” or assumed emotional output of a story. Retailers and tech companies are also testing heartbeat monitoring to evaluate store configuration, shopping experience, etc.

While this could be a passing trend that goes the way of the 70’s mood ring, an analysis by Kristina McLaughlin from Padilla’s Research + Insights team indicates that “mood-vertising” may be the strategic golden ticket for more persuasive and impactful communications. For example:


The New York Times crowdsourced data and used machine learning to create algorithms that will predict the emotions readers are likely to feel after reading an article.

While the New York Times recommends content with algorithms behind the scenes, Buzzfeed asks readers their mood upfront to direct them to relevant content.

So Why Is This Happening?

The simplest answer is, because it’s possible. Technological advances are going beyond demographics and enabling the processing of data to assign emotions to targeted populations and match them to relevant content.

The more complex answers have to do with consumers themselves. At the same time we’re demanding greater data privacy, we’re also demanding more personalized content. Enter mood-vertising: personalized content that feels less invasive because most of us are unaware that this technology exists and how it’s being used to influence us.


Consumers may feel less receptive to mood-vertising once they understand it. But for now, organizations can use this trend to inform and achieve their business objectives across the communications spectrum.

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