You would be surprised that advertising really just took off in the last 100 years. Now hundreds of billions a year are being spent to influence us to buy or act. This article will explain to you how advertising got started and what are the 9 ways that advertisers persuade you with a “call for action”. Also, you will find out about the controversies surrounding the power of advertising.
Advertising’s Small Beginnings.
In terms of history, advertising is a recent phenomenon. It started in earnest in the twentieth century in tandem with the birth of mass production. Newspapers began carrying advertising for stores and department stores as more and more new product offerings became available. Today’s advertising occurs across a variety of media to include digital advertising, print advertising, broadcast advertising, outdoor advertising, and direct mail advertising. Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on advertising in the U.S. each year making it a very influential and powerful industry. See Visual Object’s Power of Advertising for more on the history of advertising.
9 Ways That The Power of Advertising Influence You.
Advertising has only one purpose and that is to sell us something. The end result of advertising is a “call for action“. Actions can include buy now, book now, donate, click here, get started, try now, start your free trial, vote for a candidate or call now. There are tried and tested persuasive advertising approaches that engage us, and in some cases overpower us, where we are compelled to action. These include:
- Reciprocity. If someone helps us or gives us something for free, it is our human nature to return a favor or reciprocate kind gestures. Example: We are offered a free sample or a generous discount.
- Commitment. Once we commit to something, we tend to stick with it. Example: Businesses will spend on advertising to cultivate brand loyalty resulting in repeat customers.
- Consensus. People are likely to follow the crowd and do what is popular. Example: Advertisers will pay for ads with statistics, demonstrate their products popularity, or the satisfaction achieved across a wide customer base.
- Authority. People will listen to an expert or someone they respect. Example: Advertisers will pay for an expert or celebrity endorsement to speak about the effectiveness of their product or service.
- Liking. People who have similar demographics are more likely to be persuaded by a person who shares the same characteristics. Example: Advertisers will feature spokespersons who have similar demographics as the target audience. Like demographics could include ethnicity, socioeconomic class, religious inclination or even shared interests.
- Scarcity. If something is in short supply, there is a human tendency to desire it more. Example: Advertisers will spend on ads to make a product seem exclusive or that it will go out of stock if we do not act quickly.
- Information. If people have information and awareness of a product, they are inclined to make an informed decision to buy. Example: The advertiser spends on repetitive ads to teach us about the product, how to buy it easily, or how to interact with the product to get the most value at the best price.
- Empathy. People are moved to action by emotions such as empathy or compassion.. Example: Advertiser runs ad with a distressed dog invoking the audience to either give money or adopt the dog.
- Pain / Fear. People are moved to action out of fear and to avoid a painful situation. Example: An anti-drug abuse advertiser uses a frying egg to depict “your brain on drugs“.
See Business News Daily’s How to Influence Consumers Decisions, bizfluent’s Examples of Different Kinds of Persuasion Advertising, and Wikiversity’s Power of Advertising for more details on how advertising techniques can be a powerful influence in our purchasing decisions.
Power of Advertising Controversies.
Some think advertising is too powerful and causes us to do things that are not good for us or society in general. These complaints include:
- Promotes a Consumerist Ideology. As most advertising promotes a consumer product, advertisements collectively promote a consumerist ideology. With advertising, we are presented with countless arguments that only through consumption can we secure pleasure, popularity, security, and happiness. Some of us can succumb to these barrages of ads where our life becomes driven by consumption (see The Enablers of Consumption Culture).
- Advertisements Result in Poor Consumer Choices. If we make poor consumer choices, is it really our fault? Can our poor choices be blamed on the barrage of advertisements that manipulate us into buying things we do not need? Should there be more laws and regulations to protect us and our children from manipulative ads?
See Open Democracy’s The Power of Advertising: a Threat to Our Way of Life and Opentextbc’s The Influence of Advertising for more details on curtailing the power of advertising.
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