The Psychology of Online Advertising – Part Two

In my previous post “The Psychology of Online Advertising – Part One”, I told you that I have assumed for the last several years that banner advertising is dead. Like pop-up ads and other web advertising tools, banner ads originally worked due to their novelty.
As with virtually everything in life, everybody jumped on the bandwagon to capitalize on banner advertising and “ruined” it for everyone. Web surfers “unconsciously” disregard banners ads, along with areas of the web pages in which banner ads commonly appear, and anything of about the same size and shape as banner ads.

This is adaptive behavior that has been developed used by humans and other living creatures for millions of years to prevent “information overload”. Your brain draws your attention to what it considers the most important things in your visual field while disregarding most other things.

Well, it seemed to me that banner ads are not dead because unlike “popup ads” (which were wildly abused and are easily blocked using popup blockers), they still appear everywhere. So did some reading on banner advertising to see what is the real story.

Evidently, banner ads with action (flash or animated gif) do better than “static” ads because your attention is drawn to motion. Motion was possible danger (and I suppose possible food too) to our ancestors. Our ancient survival response kicks in derived from prehistoric situations like when a predator jumped out from behind a tree to attack our ancestors or an edible animal is nearby.

Likewise, our attention is drawn to objects that seem to be “out of place”. For example, we readily see an elephant walking between some semi- tractor trailers because we are not expecting it. Therefore, banner ads can be effective when properly placed on web pages where people commonly look (as determined by heat mapping techniques), away from where we are trained to look for banner ads.

Also read that banner ads that tell the viewer to “Click Here” (preferably flashing on and off) or that intrigue or entice the viewer in some manner (sex, money, status) are most effective. Must be that these satisfy some “primal need” we all have!

Finally, evidently banner ads are better for raising “brand awareness” and help the brand owner much more than the affiliates that post the banner ads on their web sites. Viewers tend to not click on banner ads (thus not helping the affiliate marketer make money) but remember the brand over a period of time.

This seemingly means that affiliate marketers should not use banner ads, but I think this is not entirely true. I have personally gotten many hits to my website using banner ads. I have not yet individually tracked sales achieved from visitors who clicked on my banner ads, but will set up my website to do so soon!

As you probably already know, most banner ads are purchased on a pay per impression basis (i.e. you pay a flat fee per thousand displays of your banner ad, known as “impressions”, on websites regardless of the number of “click throughs” to your website or that which you are promoting).

Recently, I came across the AdBright banner ad program in which you can sign up as an “Advertiser” to buy banner ads that are placed on their high quality sponsored websites on which they have up to 93 million impressions available per day depending on in which advertising categories you place your banner ad. Additionally, they have a program for “Website Owners” to make money placing banner, text, and other types of ads on their websites.

What is rather unique about the AdBright program is that advertisers can sign up for banner ads on the pay per click basis so you only pay for click throughs to your website or that which you are promoting.

I have tried both the pay per (thousand) impressions and the pay per click programs and cannot yet say for sure which is better. I have received many click throughs from both, but as I stated above, do not have the tracking in place to see which provides more cost-effective sales. I look forward to doing testing as soon as my website is set up to do so accurately!

In the interest of full disclosure, and what is readily obvious to experienced affiliate marketers, I am an affiliate marketer of AdBright and believe in their program enough to use it use it myself. I will be reporting the results of my banner advertising through them in the near future.

If you would like to sign up as an affiliate through me, click on any of the blue AdBright links or on the banner ad at the top of this post. I am only an affiliate marketer in this and several other programs so I hope that you will sign up through me.

Best regards,

Brian R. Rayve

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The Psychology of Online Advertising – Part One

I am by no means an expert or even an experienced online advertiser, but I do know quite a bit about the human brain and how it works. Therefore, I may be able to shed some light on why people react… or more commonly don’t react at all… to various online ads.
Over the last decade or two our understanding of the structure, connectivity, and interaction of various areas of the brain has exploded… and yet this body of knowledge is still in its infacy. Therefore, our evolving understanding of how the brain works will aid advertisers in creating more effective ads.

As a side note, I do fear the day in the next several decades wherein mankind’s understanding of the brain and how it works leads unscrupulous people to use “mind control” on the masses… not so much in advertising, but to further their political agendas.

Regarding online advertising, I have read articles on and have assumed for the last several years that banner advertising is dead. Like pop-up ads and other web advertising tools, banner ads originally worked due to their novelty. However, as with virtually everything in life, everybody (and their brother or sister) jumps on the bandwagon to capitalize on something that works… especially when money is made. Web surfers evidently become “blind” to the various advertising techniques due to over-exposure, be it pop-ups, banners, or whatever.

I started thinking about why this occurs as I never read a physiological or adaptive reason for the occurrence of the “ad blindness”. Therefore, I have formulated my take on the subject based on my accumulated knowledge, which I will attempt to explain here.

Actually, this seeming “blindness” to sensory stimulus is adaptive behavior that has been developed and used by humans and by other living creatures for millions of years. Our brain, out of necessity, selectively disregards most inputs from our senses at any given moment in time. This is because: 1) the brain lacks the capacity to simultaneously process every sensory input; 2) some inputs are more important to process than others for survival… like the sabre toothed tiger our ancestors saw approaching; and 3) it takes too much energy (glucose and oxygen) to process all sensory inputs… not a problem in the present age of over-eating and McDonalds… but food was scarce until modern farming technology increased crop yields in the early part of the 20th century.

As a side note, I have always wondered why our brains grew to such a large size and computational capacity hundreds of thousands of years ago when we really had little knowledge to store and process (e.g. how to throw a spear or make stone tool). It is like having a supercomputer without a supporting database and software to compliment it. Well, I recently found the answer… but I will keep you in suspense and put that in a separate post.

Here is an example of selective attention and blindness to sensory input. When you are doing an activity such as putting on your shoes over your socks, your brain is more attuned to the sensory input from your feet. You feel those lumps in your socks against your feet and shoes. Your brain is processing the tactile input from the nerves in your foot because that is necessary to properly (and comfortably) put on your shoes. Once you complete the task, your brain stops processing most of this tactile information and directs its processing power to other tasks, until such time as you start removing your shoes… or accidentally step on a tack!

Imagine the distraction it would be if your brain continued to process the tactile input from your feet throughout the whole day… you feeling every little pressure or shift of your foot within the shoe. Additionally, this would divert the processing power of your brain away from where it is really needed… such as driving our car to work or to the grocery store.

Your brain does the same thing with your eyes, as well as your other three senses. Your brain selectively processes inputs from objects in your visual field, particularly objects that you are concentrating on watching… such as the pretty woman or handsome guy across the street… or objects that are in motion… like that sabre toothed tiger jumping out of a bush to attack our ancestors… while disregarding most other things such as billboards, traffic, giant sloths (harmless to cavemen), etc.

A test was conducted several years ago in which people were asked to watch a film clip in which two actors do an activity together (no, it’s not a porno flick) so they could later answer some questions about the activity. Most observers were focused in on the actors so much that they did not notice something outrageous that crossed behind the actors… I believe someone dressed in a gorilla suit. Their brains disregarded the background activities in favor of the actors.

Well you ask, how does this information about how our brains have evolved to function the way they do make me money? Stay tuned to Part 2 which is coming to this blog shortly.

Best regards,

Brian R. Rayve

P.S. You can join my affiliate program to get started making good money on our products by clicking here.

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