The Psychology of Advertising

Have you ever seen an ad on television that moved or touched you in some way? Do you think of a certain commercial and tear up? Your answer is almost certainly yes. The effect that the ad had on you can be attributed to the psychology of advertising.

Why do some advertising campaigns succeed and stick in our memories while others simply pass into oblivion? Well, it is neither coincidence nor chance. It is the result of extremely precise work that takes different variables, factors and peculiarities into account. Now we’ll explain what psychology has to do with advertising and its affect on people.

What is the psychology of advertising?

Basically, the psychology of advertising is the combination of many different interests and variables that seek to predict the psychological trends of consumerism.

Advertising is now not limited to magazines, newspapers, radio, television or even the internet. In fact, it is in practically everything that surrounds us. The way of products are displayed in department stores, the color and size of potato chips, the price of clothes, subtle words spoken on the radio. In other words, everything that makes a product attractive and grabs our attention is a powerful means of publicizing it.

All of us, when we buy or consume, try to distinguish ourselves from other people. This desire to stand out, to be different and unique, is something that the psychology of advertising takes advantage of. Then when these individual differences are established, other concepts such as motivation, preferences or personal judgments also come into play.

the psychology of advertising and the brain

Strategies in the psychology of advertising

By getting to know people’s characteristics and how they purchase, you can have greater persuasive influence over them through the media. How?

If you’ve ever gone to the supermarket to buy a “couple of things” and come out with a full cart, congratulations! You have been a victim of the techniques used by the science of advertising! To be more specific, marketers use the psychology of advertising to persuade consumers using strategies like the below:

  • Mechanistic: First, mainly using psychoanalysis, this strategy conditions people through repeating a slogan or image. The reiteration aims to convince the consumer to make a purchase.
  • Persuasive: Aims to raise a product above the equivalent product of its competitors. To do this, it gives information about its characteristics or attributes and compares them favorably with the other similar items. It also feeds mainly on creativity and personal intuition.
  • Projective: This focuses on the models, culture and lifestyles of the subjects. It usually portrays products as matching an individual person’s interests or opinions. In addition, sociology and anthropology are key here too.
  • Suggestive: Finally this strategy draws on psychoanalytic techniques to read our thoughts. Basically, it focuses on a consumer’s anxiety, fear, or stress and tries to convince them that there is a  “magic product” our there designed just for them.

Successful ads using psychology

Behind all advertising campaigns are pivotal decisions on which success depends. In each of these decisions, experts in the psychology of advertising research and contribute knowledge to make their marketing more impactful. They take into account the following factors:

  • Ad characteristics: which color, typography and images they should use.
  • Repetition: the number of times they should issue or publish it. Despite this being one of the oldest strategies around, it continues to be one of the most effective. Its philosophy is that the more consumers see or hear a message, the more it will stick in their memory.
  • Price: A lower price does not necessarily mean a greater number of sales. Although it is an important factor (Black Friday’s record sales almost every year is evidence), other variables also have an influence.
  • Channel: Where the ads will be (newspaper, radio, tv, internet etc.)

A psychologist working in marketing also has to take into account consumption trends of different age ranges. The direction the target audience is evolving is also important. For example, if we want to reach adolescents, then we’ll need to conduct campaigns on the internet or through cell phones. In addition, given their age, it’s a good idea to support their identity, something that is of the utmost importance at this stage of life.

“An effectively persuasive message is one that has the ability to alter how the individual functions psychologically”