You are on page 1of 8


The Psychology behind advertising

Jasmesha Evans

Hampton University


There is logic and reason behind every advertisement. Most advertisements are not just thrown

together, but made in a specific way to appeal to its targeted audience. The literature review will

inform readers on the psychology behind advertising. The review will address what advertising

is, what psychology is as well as some psychological strategies most commonly used in


The Mechanism Of Advertising: How It Works


Advertising is heavily intertwined in our everyday lives. Whether it is through

billboards, newspapers, television or internet, we see some type of advertisements

everyday. Behind every advertisement is a purpose or message. With that being said it is

the job of the companies to know their audience and how to appeal to them. There are

many types of advertisements as well as advertising strategies used. One key component

of advertisement is appealing to the consumers mind. Psychology plays a huge part of the

process of making advertisements. To fully understand how advertising works one must

ask themselves the following questions:

1. What is advertising?
2. What are the top forms of media used in advertising?
3. What is psychology and what role does it play in advertising?
4. What are the most common psychological strategies used in


The following review of literature will: inform the reader of what advertising is, what are the

most effective types of advertising, and how psychology plays a role in advertising.

What is advertising?

Before one can understand the psychology behind advertising or the most effective types

of advertising one must know exactly what advertising is. A broad definition according to

Websters dictionary would be, advertising is the action of calling something to the attention of

the public especially by paid announcements. A more in depth definition according to business

dictionary is that, advertising is the activity or profession of producing information for

promoting the sale of commercial products or services. Advertising is essentially spreading the

word about a particular product or service. The purpose of an advertisement can vary depending

on the product and or audience. Entrepreneur states, the purpose of advertising is to: make

customers aware of your product or service, convince customers that your companys product or

service is right for their needs, create a desire for your product or service, enhance the image of

your company, and announce new product or services. Much like how the purpose of an

advertisement can vary so can the media used, the type of advertisement can and will vary with

respect to its audience and type of product or service being marketed.

What is the top form of media used in advertisement?

While internet usage is growing everyday due to social media, television is still the form

of media mostly used to advertise. Figure 1 shows where the most money is and will be spend

regarding advertisements. Television has held the lead for quite some time now; however, in

years to come digital could take the lead. According to catalyst television has held the lead

because,TV advertising builds brand fame and keeps brands alive in your mind for much longer

than a sponsored post or a search result. Television is a pretty effective form of media because

you are able to run the same ad multiple time so it will leave an impression on the consumer (R.

Jefferson, interview, March 18, 2017). Times are changing and in the future so will the top forms

of media used for advertisements.


What is psychology and what role does it play in advertisement?

Psychology in simple terms is the study of the mind and behavior. In order to sell a

product it is essential to know how to appeal to the audience. The producer must be aware of

how their audience thinks as well as their likes and dislikes to effectively sell a product: that is

when the psychology part comes into play. Consumers are exposed to hundreds of advertising

messages each day, but many are unaware of the psychological knowledge and concepts that are

used to create many of todays advertisements (Lindstrom, 2008). When creating an

advertisement you want to appeal to the audience's emotions, make them remember the

advertisement and essentially want to buy the product; which all involve the mind and

subconscious. It is safe to say that behind every advertising company there are psychologist

working to monitor the behavior of consumers to make the advertisements more appealing to


What are the most common psychological strategies used in advertising?

There are a lot of ways psychology can coincide with advertisement. Some psychological

strategies are obvious in advertisements while others are more underlying. One of the more

obvious strategies are appealing to the subconscious sexual desires. There are numerous

advertisements in which there are sexual innuendos present. Sex sells and psychologist as well as

advertisement makers know that. Another psychological strategy is color psychology, Different

colors evoke different emotions.People make up their minds about a product within 90 seconds

and 62%-90% of that decision is based on color alone Singh, (2006). To an average consumer an

advertisement could just happen to have nice colors; however, to a scientist or advertisement

makers the colors chosen in an advertisement are for a reason. Also a strategy used often is

scarcity. Psychology use scarcity to appeal to the consumer's ego. Having something that a lot of

others dont have sparks a sense of importance and exclusivity. The rarer a product is the higher

the demand for it.


While the top forms of media used in advertisement could potentially change over the years

some strategies will still remain the same. The use of psychology in advertisements will always

be a factor. To better understand the consumer one must know how the consumer thinks. The

most effective advertisements play on desires and wants as well as other parts of the

subconscious. Good producers give the people just what they want and to do that you have to get

in their minds.


Advertising. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2017, from https://www.merriam-

Advertising. Retrieved March 19, 2017, from


All products require an annual contract. Prices do not include sales tax (New York residents
only). (n.d.). Advertising spending in the U.S. by media 2016 | Statistic. Retrieved March 20,
2017, from

Hussain, A., Says, A. H., Says, F., Says, N. B., Says, S., & Says, I. (2016, March 24). Marketing
Psychology: 9 Strategies to Influence Consumers. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from

Lindstrom, M. (2008). Buyology: Truth and lies about why we buy. New York, NY: Doubleday.

Mineo, G. (n.d.). Marketing Psychology: 10 Revealing Principles of Human Behavior. Retrieved

March 20, 2017, from

Satyendra Singh, (2006) "Impact of color on marketing", Management Decision, Vol. 44 Iss: 6,
pp.783 - 789

Why TV is still the most effective advertising medium... (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2017, from


Interview: Conducted March 18th, 2017

Question: When working with New Line Cinema what were the most effective types of
advertisements used?

Response: My work mostly involved the advertisement of movies; therefore, television was the
most effective media.

Question: Were there any other ways your advertised the movies?

Response: We advertised through merchandise and movie posters as well.

Question: What do you think the most effective form of media is?

Response: Television because you are able to run the same ad multiple time so it will leave an
impression on the consumer.

(R. Jefferson, Interview, March 18, 2017).