A handful of companies have sprung up that use artificial intelligence and emotion research to break through the advertising noise. A startup called Dumbstruck claims it can measure people's emotional responses to test video ads before they run - saving marketers millions in media waste and challenging stalwarts like Kantar. The company has attracted marketing vet Rishad Tobaccowala to its board and 24 brands on board including Mondelez, Ford (via its agency), and Comcast. The challenge with new methods is that they're not independently verified and there's skepticism that emotion-driven ads can lead to business outcomes. Click here for more BI Prime stories. A handful of companies including Affectiva and Realeyes have sprung up on the promise of using AI in emotion research to break through the advertising noise. Now a startup called Dumbstruck claims it's going further by measuring people's emotional responses to test video ads before they run - potentially saving marketers millions in media waste and taking on measurement stalwarts like Kantar. The company based its approach on research by Paul Ekman that ties facial movements to emotions. It uses consumer panels to track people's reactions like joy, surprise, and anger, and attention while watching video ads. It's raised angel funding from investors including serial entrepreneur Howard Tullman and support from the ad veteran Rishad Tobaccowala, who sits on its board. CEO Jeff Tetrault, who cofounded Philo Media, a digital video studio, said the company has 24 brands testing or using it including category giants Mondelez, Ford (via its agency), and Comcast. We've truly built a crystal ball for advertising, Tetrault said. Companies like Dumbstruck tap into the idea that emotion drives buying decisions and that advertising is moving toward personalization and video. The challenge is churning out tons of personalized video ads that work on an emotional level quickly. Tobaccowala, who wrote the book, Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data, on the connection between human intuition and data, said he was drawn to Dumbstruck because of its ability to parse emotion fast and at scale. Video won't work unless it's highly targeted, he said. Competitors are measuring eye tracking more than anything else. This is measuring your face. This says, why did someone click or feel impact. I haven't seen it with the same sensitivity elsewhere. Dumbstruck made two clients available to comment who praised the company for its speed and efficacy. Clare Meridew, chief creative officer for North America for GTB, Ford's lead agency, said Dumbstruck produces more results faster than traditional focus group testing that can take months to get feedback. Mondelez used Dumbstruck to test Oreo and Ritz ads Jon Halvorson, VP of global media, digital, and data at Mondelez, said creative ad testing hasn't evolved to meet the needs of companies like his that are now creating millions of versions of ads for different demographic groups. Dumbstruck is one of a few research companies Mondelez is trying out, including Picasso Labs. Halvorson said Mondelez used the company to test how Oreo and Ritz ads resonated by demographic group, like parents with kids and men 25-34, and tweak them accordingly. Some of our Oreo assets don't spike against moms, and that's a problem, he said. Halvorson said the testing also unearthed other findings. It shows we need to show the food more, he said. You want to see the food, but you don't want to see people eating the food. There are challenges facing such companies. They're not independently verified. International companies like Mondelez want to know if they can work at global scale. And there's skepticism that having this emotional data can help marketers make ads that sell more products. Then there are basic internal organizational questions. Does the funding come from the creative or research budget? This is such a new lane, where does the money come from? Tetrault said. Clients sometimes have a challenge because it's a pre-testing tool, which is highly unusual. Get the latest Ford stock price here.