Is there a science of advertising?

Does advertising work? If it does work, how does it work? And given this, should we be worried about what advertisers do? These are, broadly, the questions I’m interested in and the topics I am going to be posting about for the next month. Aside from sheer curiousity, I’m chairing a discussion on the topic of advertising and psychology on March 6th at Cafe Scientifique, Sheffield.

Here’s the blurb:

Do adverts work? How do they work? And is it a problem?

Most of us don’t think we’re particularly affected by adverts, but it can’t be for nothing that the advertising industry in the UK spent

5 replies on “Is there a science of advertising?”

I recently scanned something interesting about advertising in new scientist (an issue since christmas). on a different note entirely what do you know about australian aboriginals? i have this starnage feeling that someone somewhere demonstrated that they have different visual prodessing. does this sound familiar to you?

I wonder if anyone’s ever done any research on how many of us find the invasion of our everyday environment by advertising intrusive and intimidating? Has most existing research around advertising been aimed at helping advertisers be more effective, rather than interested purely in the effect of it on people and their lives per se?

Rose: yes they have, and i think they found that we tend to take in less information than advertisers thought or hoped: generally about three seconds worth. Also the more they try and bombard us the quicker we ‘shut down’. People were more susceptable to advertising in the 1950s when it was all pretty new stuff on pretty new media (TV, radio, brightly coloured posters etc). This may seem counter intuitive when you think how crude adverts were back then (generally picture in attractive smiling woman holding waashing powder and clean washing, or very stereotyped…). But it appears that we have become very selective in our information uptake and processing. Think about the number of images we are bombarded with everyday: no wonder we are so practiced at cutting them out quickly! They also found that products were negatively rated if the advert was particularly intrusive/annoying /or stopped us doing something (eg those pop ups on the internet). Maybe we will have less intrusive but more effective advertising in the future on the basis of this…? Be thankful that right now it may be annoying but that you automatically cut it out after three seconds so has little effect on you. 😉

for some anecdotal evidence, someone i know finds the adverts at the cinema, before the film starts, to be so intrusive that they simply leave the room till the trailers or film start.

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