Why We Need To Focus On Psychology In Advertising


Advertisements are what catch your eye — but most importantly, try their best to connect you with their message, whether it is physical or digital print. Advertisements are not just pretty pictures or gorgeous videos. They are powerful, detailed mechanisms to lure in the consumer. So, how does one behind an advertisement decide how they’re going to catch your attention? There are steps to it, and it is important to analyze those steps. It is crucial that one focuses on connecting to society’s trends and evaluating between the lines, events, and issues that could potentially affect that advertisement. One needs to know what truly goes into a successful advertisement so it does not flop and you’ve created a bond with your consumer, instead of the advertisement potentially being removed or receiving poor feedback. There is more than following a rulebook, and adding twists to that rulebook will result in a favorable outcome for all.

Psychology is a defining factor in advertising, and one factor that needs to be focused on more intensely and thoroughly. Advertising is clearly trying to impact your thought process, which is a mental stimulation. It is provoking you to think.

Whether you choose to buy a product or not is not a physical effect, but a physiological effect.

You do not go out the door and just buy a product you see. There are several elements that occur before you physically buy a product. Those elements are all psychological results. Since advertising is reaching several different demographic groups and people of different ages, genders, races, etc, why not consider all the different minds one is reaching as well? This is supported by the statement, “Advertising has as its one function, the influencing of human minds. Unless it does this it is useless and destructive to the firms attempting it. As it is the human mind that advertising is dealing with, its only scientific basis is psychology, which is simply a systematic study of those same minds which the advertiser is seeking to influence.” This shows that if an advertisement does not stimulate your mind, was it even effective? Essentially, isn’t advertising based off “toying” with the human mind? All the rules and tips on how to have a successful advertisement are just ways to play with the “toys” and stir up competition in the toolbox.

Walter Dill Scott is credited as the first American psychologist to apply psychology in advertising.

There has been several research conducted on how psychology is used in advertisements, with advertising magazines and agencies creating ways for psychology in advertising to be used and shown. Professional psychologists were used for search in laboratories where tests were conducted off advertisements, and “elaborate investigations were undertaken and carried through to a successful issue.” What is interesting is that psychologists “turned to the study of advertising in all its phases.” This shows that advertising does have several parts to it. Psychology is emphasized in an article by Printers Ink, which is dated back to July 24th, 1907. Even from several years ago to now, it is a defining factor in advertising. Amber Haq of Business Week wrote in 2007, “neuromarketers use sophisticated brain-imaging technology to test consumer response and help clients fine-tune their strategies.” There are studies done on the brain and how advertising affects it. With studies continuing to advance, will persuasive techniques as well? If one is behind an advertisement, one needs to look further beyond. Seeing is an important part of advertising. Consumers are being visually exposed, and how does one make sure the consumer retains the image?

Consumers remember by repetition, intensity, association, and ingenuity.

Color psychology is very prevalent in advertising. Consumers associate certain colors with specific emotions.

Association is the star, because we associate ads with several different aspects of our life. There are types of advertisements that are geared towards sparking that connection. If one sees an advertisement for dog food, he or she can connect that to their beloved pet or feelings of wanting one, etc. There are several different examples, but they all follow one, similar undertone. This undertone is making a connection.

According to the journal, “How Advertising Works: What Do We Really Know?” by Demetrios Vakratsas and Tim Ambler, the importance of having a mental response to an advertisement is illustrated.

An advertisement should create an open door for the consumer to have a mental response towards, whether it’s consciously or unconsciously.

This includes awareness, memory, and attitude. These effects need to happen before the consumer acts on the behavior. Successful advertisements have effects on consumers. A figure in this journal illustrates that one needs to evaluate advertising input, which is the “message content, media scheduling, and repetition.” Then, there are “filters” which include motivation and involvement. Then, this goes to how it affects the consumer, with cognition, affect, and experience. From that, consumer behavior is identified, which is choice, consumption, loyalty, and habit.

The article states,

“The successful advertiser, either personally or through his advertising department, must carefully study psychology. He must understand how the human mind acts. He must know what repels and what attracts. He must know what will create an interest and what will fall flat. He must be a student of human nature, and he must know the laws of the human mind.”


Therefore, if one cannot be in tune with his or her mind, how can they expect to strike a chord with the general population? There are seven steps to how someone becomes interested enough to purchase a product they have seen advertised. This includes “potential purchases” who are “unaware” of the product to be exposed to it or start questioning what it is. Next, it is important that they know the product exists and is up for grabs. Third, they need to know the features of the product. Fourth, they need to develop a liking towards the product. Fifth, they need to prefer the product against competitors. Sixth, they want to know that if they purchase this product, it was a smart choice. Lastly, they buy the product. As one can see, there are several thoughts and steps that are in a consumer’s mind before a product is purchased. If an advertisement can’t instigate these thoughts into the consumer’s brain, then it it not as successful. One needs to know how to structure their advertisement successfully, so successful sales result.

Anatomy is not only the definition of the “internal workings of something,” but also the scientific definition of composition. Advertising is a science, and within it, there are several branches composed of categories, factors, rules, and ideas. Advertisements will continue to progress for centuries, but by understanding the psychology behind an advertisement, one can understand how they’re being marketed to. Why do I want to buy that product or go to this place? Why does this interest me? How can this benefit me? How is this better than what I am using now? Now you know. There has been a whole process behind it, and you’re the final key to the treasure chest of the business model.