Why do More Than 40% of Online Ads Miss their Intended Mark?

Nielsen recently announced that nearly 40% of online ads aren’t doing their job and hitting their target audience. Also recently announced was the fact that the United Kingdom is going to increase their spending on advertising to £300 million, a 22% increase, mostly due to the fact that users are increasingly not watching and not clicking on their ads.

At the recent Behavioral Science Conference held by Chinwag Psych,one of the big ideas being tossed around to explain this recent drop, and how to remedy it, was “idea porn.” This theory, in a nutshell, concerns the triggers that companies use to get Internet users to pay attention to their advertisements and make buying decisions.

It was coined by Mark Borkowski, a sort of communication guru who says that if ads are “funny, sexy, cute, shocking, illuminating, spectacular, controversial, topical, and [have ] a touch of schadenfreude,” they will get looked at more often. He added that, if that doesn’t work, they can do the next best thing; add a celebrity.

Here are a couple of recent examples. These two advertisement titles were recently used online in real campaigns. The first was “A place of New Beginnings” and the second was “Addiction torments Addicts and their Loved Ones”.

Not surprisingly (or maybe surprisingly, depending on your point of view), the second title increased the CTR by over 180%. The reason; it’s a complete story in 7 words that uses language to evoke emotions such as anger and sadness.

Here’s another that might be a little more tricky. Which of these two following advertising slogans do you think performed better?  Number one: “Free Marketing Research: We hold all the secrets to Internet marketing. Buy Now!” or number two:  “Free Marketing Research: Lousy Marketing ideas. Don’t come to our Site.”

Surprisingly, the second slogan works better because it isn’t what most users would expect and thus piques their interest more.

And then, of course, there are pictures.

A recent project involving an MRI scanner and two shoe companies, Zappos (owned by Amazon) and a relatively new and unknown company called Shoe Guru.

MRI scans of actual human participants showed that part of the brain that produces feelings of desire, the nucleus accumbens, was stimulated more by the advertisements from Shoe Guru than those that Zappos produced. The main difference between the two was that the former focused on what they call a “hero shot” of one shoe whereas the latter was much more cluttered.

Researchers readily admit that they aren’t exactly why this works, but brands are already starting to take advantage of it in order to spur consumers to make more purchases.

 

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