Values in Advertising or the Content Around It

Part 1

On October 14, 2021, the  ARF Cognition Council  presented their work on altruistic advertising and brand safety, with fresh investigations from Twitter and members of the Council. This research highlighted characteristics of altruistic creative assets, public attitudes about brands’ embrace of social causes, and the impact of social values and controversial content on attention, engagement, and advertising outcomes.

The following is the presentation made by Bill Harvey, Chairman of RMT.

A Study of the Motivations Subconsciously Communicated by Altruistic Commercials

Context Effects Proven by Kwon Journal of Advertising Research April, 2018 Meta-Analysis of 70 Studies

context effectsPutting funny ads in funny programs can get you 15% more ad recall.

RMT sought to determine the ideal dimensions for such content coding. Surely one could go deeper than funny/serious, etc.

RMT Discovery of
265 Subconscious Motivations

  • Machine Learning reduced from over 13,000 to 265 variables
  • Simmons finds these add +83% to predicting brand adoption and+271% to predicting TV series adoption
  • Nielsen NCS proves ad-context alignment on these dimensions drives double digit increase in sales effects
  • 605 replicates these results on full funnel branding metrics.

motivational types

Every word in the English language

  • AI personalized program recommender driven by set top box data and psychological metadata.
  • 18% conversion to loyal viewership of a recommended series never watched before.
  • 265 variable account for 76% of TV rating variance.

RMT DriverTags Third Party Validations

Higher alignment lifts in not just ad recall, but for incremental sales ROI and full funnel branding effects

Neustar ROAS Index

RMT Empirically Expands Maslow Motivational Types

Maslow hypothesis developed intuitively. RMT science based on empirical data. RMT validates, expands, clarifies Maslow.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Self-Actualization – desire to become the most that one can be
Esteem – Respect, self-esteem, status, recognition, strength, freedom
Love and Belonging – friendship, intimacy, family, sense of connection
Safety Needs – personal security, employment, resources, health,  property
Physiological Needs – air, water, food, shelter, sleep, clothing, reproduction

RMT Motivational Types

    1. Self Transcendence
    2. Self Knowledge
    3. Creativity
    4. Love
    5. Power
    6. Experience/Sex
    7. Heroism/Leadership
    8. Wealth/Success
    9. Status/Prestige
    10. Competency
    11. Fitness
    12. Aspiration/Learning
    13. Achievement
    14. Belonging
    15. Security/Conservation

Activating RMT with Context

In Linear Television, and in OTT/CTV, DriverTag Resonance between the ad and the program (or network, or daypart on a specific network) becomes part of the optimization along with client choice of best of breed purchaser targeting.

8 DTs in Common=25% Resonance

Examples of High Program-Ad Resonance

Brand B/Ad SR15  Network Resonance – Total DriverTags
in Ad Matched by Program
S.W.A.T. CBS 70.61%
The Good Fight CBS 70.59%
Hotel Hell FOX 64.71%
Unexpected TLC 58.84%
Satisfaction USA 58.83%

Norm = 19.20%


To unpack what makes altruistic commercials work, using the new RMT discoveries on the effects of ad-context alignment.


433 spots in the RMT database were ranked based on the Altruism Motivation which RMT calls Self-Transcendence.

Scores on all 15 Motivational Types were compared between the top 10 Altruistic ad and the total of all 433 ads.

The top 10 Altruistic ads included 8 ads and two P&G spots that we classify as brand content because they don’t contain sales points.

None of the 433 ads in the database is a public service announcement.

Important Methodological Note:

What You See In This Deck is Summarized up to This Level “15 “Motivations”

All RMT Content Coding is Carried Out at This Level
265 “ DriverTags

al motivations

P&G “The Talk”

P&G’s moving mini-stories about Black moms tragically having the Talk one must have with Black children to armor them against racism.

The mini-program indexed very high on Self-Transcendence, Self-
Knowledge, Creativity, Love, Power, Heroism, and Aspiration.

Altruistic ads are above average in every Motivation. Love is increased the most in these ads, even more than Altruism.



Highest Resonance Contexts to The Talk Based on 265 Subconscious Motivations

Note that Pit Bulls and Parolees is a touching reality series about parolees saving dogs and themselves.

    1. Pit Bulls and Parolees
    2. The Redemption Project with Van Jones,
    3. The Many Sides of Jane,
    4. I Am Jazz
    5. The Therapist,
    6. The Blue Planet Now
    7. The Profit,
    8. Live PD: Police Patrol
    9. The Supervet,
    10. Oprah’s Master Class
Avg. SMI CPM -13% below norm. For all non-sports broadcast/cable

Note how closely Pit Bulls and Parolees matches The Talk in Motivations
and how far apart Wife Swap is from the latter two pieces of content.

Resonant vs. Dissonant

resonant vs dissonant motivations graph

Natural evolution of television caused ads & programs to mirror each other.
BUT: Not enough programs tuned to Self-Knowledge, Love, Wealth/Success, Aspiration in relation to the ads


Average Motivation scores for programs only 10% higher than for ads, a testament to copywriters given the length of screen time they have vs. scriptwriters.


    • Altruistic ads have something in them for everyone
      • Whatever the person’s motivations, an Altruistic ad will tend to have those motivations
        • In this way, they “bring us all together”
      • On average they rate highest in:
        • LOVE
        • ASPIRATION
        • CREATIVITY
    • Altruistic ads may be more sensitive to context than average
    • Attaining authenticity in Altruistic ads is essential
    • Altruistic ads work even better if they relate to the existing brand image

Cognition Council Context Effects Working Group

Manuel Garcia-Garcia, Ph.D. (Chair)                    Ipsos
Ryan Boh                                                                    Oracle
Mike Follett                                                                Lumen Research
Bill Harvey                                                                  Bill Harvey Consulting
Devra Jacobs                                                             iMotions
Mary James                                                               Real Chemistry
Neil Napolitano                                                        Meredith
Josh Peters                                                                BuzzFeed
Kimberly Rose Clark, Ph. D.                                   Merchant Mechanics, Inc.
Hannah Stone                                                           Verizon (Young Pros Officer)
Alex Poppen                                                               Ipsos (Young Pros Officer)

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