Look over here! Notice me! Click right here! Our attention is wanted everywhere. Advertising is evolving with today’s age and product placements are following us wherever we go. Advertising is there when we’re walking on the street, listening to the radio in our car or scrolling down our Facebook newsfeed. The never ending battle for our attention is becoming more and more sophisticated and suited for our needs. To maximise our comfort and satisfaction, of course… not by any means to make us spend our hard-earned money #sarcasm. Why is advertising so successful and how to recognise the manipulation as a customer? Here’s 3 dirty tricks of the ad industry on today’s psychology of advertising!
1. Following the stars Advertising is no longer about making sure you know about the best features of the thing you are buying. Products we use represent the lifestyle we are living. They represent us as people and express our identity. That is why influencer marketing has become so successful in the past couple of years. If a pretty girl on YouTube is telling about the benefits of the latest Lash-Smash Mascara, you are more likely to believe her than the picture-perfect model from a TV ad.
We don’t care about perfectly crafted stories by faceless brands anymore. People trust people who they identify with. That is why people sharing real life stories online works much better than the Hollywood production-like ads we see on TV~. The tricky thing is however, that no matter whether you are looking at a TV ad or watching a YouTube video, in the majority of cases brands pay for their products to be there. So while vloggers may be easier to trust than Victoria Secret models, keep in mind that product placement is still product placement.
2. Mastering the art of storytelling People have always loved a good story. The early cave paintings are already a proof of the fact that story telling is a way of communication among human beings. It is exactly the power of well-crafted stories that in 2016 made advertising into a 190 billion dollar industry in the US alone~.
Every story needs a hero. Do you remember the Coke Zero commercial from couple of years ago? An angry father bangs at the door of his daughter, while the guy she spent the night with, escapes in a James Bond-like fashion after drinking the newest and coolest zero sugar beverage. There’s romance, there’s suspense, action and a clear story line. You hope the “good” guy manages to escape the “evil” father. The ad entertains you and keep you watching until the end. You feel like you just watched an action mini film, when in fact you were simply introduced to a new product on the market~.
3. Remarketing a.k.a. digital mind control Technology is largely responsible for the level of sophistication of the advertising industry. The more relevant a message is to you, the more likely you will be to respond to it a.k.a. buy whatever is being offered to you. It is really a double-edged sword. Sure, it saves our time, optimises our lives and makes us more efficient. However, at the same time it slowly chips your free will away.
One of the greatest eye-openers in digital marketing for me was learning how remarketing works. Let’s say you’re interested in buying a language course and so you search for it but then decide that none of the offers fit your schedule right now. In the following weeks you might get ads on Facebook or other websites, showing exactly the language schools that you visited during your research. They know you’ve visited their website and they want you to get back there again... until you book a course and become their customer.
I am often amused and fascinated by the ads I get for things I remember once searching for. It reminds me- you have not yet bought that thing you once wanted to buy! The funny thing is, even when you know the theory and psychology behind all of this, it still works. It steers your attention towards something and where the attention goes, your wallet follows. One trick for you, to protect yourself against the power of remarketing is searching in the incognito window. It gives you at least a tiny piece of privacy in a world where your every move, or rather click, is observed.
Seeing the world with a critical eye Whether it is the billboards we pass outside or pop-up banners on our laptop screens, advertising simply works. How to protect ourselves from it? Question, question & question again! How does it work? Why does it work like that? Why am I being showed exactly this ad right now? And above all… ask yourself whether whatever you are about to throw into your real or virtual shopping cart is actually something you want and need. Our motivation for buying products often comes from adverting, even without us being aware of it. With the right knowledge about us as consumers advertising can be incredibly smart. However, with the right knowledge of advertising we can be smarter.