Think back to last night when you were watching television or skimming through a magazine. You were likely seeing a commercial or reading an insert for a detergent, beer or cologne. At the time, you were thinking to yourself: "That advertisement had no effect on me whatsoever!" Think again. Most advertisements, whether they’re on the Internet or in a newspaper, are determined to brainwash you, and sometimes this endeavor works, and sometimes it doesn’t.
See Also: How to Advertise in 2015
Advertising has now become a science. After numerous trials and errors over the past century, brands and marketing agencies have perfected the science. These firms know what you want, and will tap into your inner subconscious to ensure you will purchase a product, or that you are at least aware of the brand. This was showcased in the hit television series "Mad Men."
In addition to the science behind advertising, there are plenty of other interesting titbits to show that the entire world is nothing but just one massive advertisement. Unfortunately, advertising is imperative to the continuation of some of the things we adore and take for granted: free Internet content, community baseball teams and Santa Claus parades at Christmas time.
Here are eight secrets people who work in advertising never tell you:
1. Advertisers Will Always Find You
No matter what you do: advertisers will always find you and get to you somehow. Hey, they’re spending billions of dollars per year. What did you expect?
A billboard while waiting for the bus, a five-second ad spot before a YouTube video, a banner ad on a mobile website or a product placement, advertisers will always seep into your consciousness and promote a product or a service they think you’d like. There’s no escaping it. It’s like the blob.
Even if you think AdBlock will prevent you from being advertised to while you surf the Internet, think again. Ever heard of sponsored content? Many of the articles you now read on the New York Times, USA Today or BuzzFeed websites are sponsored by Wal-Mart, HBO and even the Church of Scientology. Besides, companies are now paying adblock software developers to add them onto their white list of approved advertisers.
Advertisers also know everything about your consumption habits. How long are you placing a cursor or a display ad? How long does it take you to leave a certain part of the page? How often do you come across a specific ad? You’re never alone on the Internet.
Yep, you will never escape the wrath of a brand or an advertising agency.
2. Brands Are Usually Late to the Show
Remember when Cheerios made headlines that it was promoting an interracial couple with a child in one of its commercials? It was controversial because brands are actually kind of late to progress to how society functions. Although homosexual and mixed race couples have been perfectly acceptable in society for a long time, it’s only recently that brands have started featuring them in their advertisements.
3. Online Scammers Are Eroding Ad Revenues
Do scammers ever vanish from society? Nope. With the Internet, their presence has only been exacerbated and their profits have been enhanced.
The biggest threat posed to the advertising industry in 2015 is online fraud, which is estimated to cost the niche approximately $6 billion per year. For instance, roughly half of third-party sourced traffic is fraudulent and about one-quarter of video ad impressions are fake.
We can’t forget malware, either. In today’s highly connected world, a person can establish a website for gamers or avid professional wrestling fans, and advertisers can send ads to that website. From there, the scamming website owner sends malware to millions of computers which will visit the bogus website and the firm pays the scammers for the unscrupulous traffic.
In the end, everyone gets hurt by online scammers: brands, advertisers and owners of websites.
4. You Just Don't Care About Ads
Indeed, a majority of consumers don’t trust advertising. But you know what? They also don’t care for it either. They’re rather indifferent to television, online or print advertising. It doesn’t matter how much a brand spends, it’s hard to make the neoteric, cynical consumer care for a billion-dollar brand.
This is especially true for potentially the most lucrative consumer in history: the millennial. Millennials are officially the biggest consumer segment in the United States today as they have surpassed Baby Boomers. But their disdain for advertising is one of the reasons why ad-blocking software has become prevalent.
Of course, advertisers don’t need to hit the panic button just yet. Millennials may care again, says Rob Hilborn, Broadband Genie head of strategy:
"Rebuilding trust and taking the frustration of seeing irrelevant ads away should be a top priority if these companies are serious about trying to curb the growth of ad blockers. At the end of the day, ad blockers have only become popular because users are dissatisfied with what’s currently being displayed."
5. Product Placements Are Alive and Well
If you’ve been to the pictures in the past couple of years then there is one thing you may have noticed: there’s just so many darn product placements in movies these days. Well, you’re right. It seems as if product placements in film and television is at an all-time high. Just watch any Michael Bay or big blockbuster movie and you’ll see that there all types of brands showcased prominently on the silver screen. Of course, Bay is the guiltiest director/producer out there.
6. Colors, Right Hands, Dilated Pupils...Oh My!
We just don’t think about it, but studies have found that it’s the little things that make or break a product. Whether it’s the colors used by brands, a product being held in the right hand or a model’s dilated pupils, advertising is truly a science. You can see more in the video above.
7. Stars Don't Actually Use the Products They Endorse
This may not be groundbreaking news. However, for those who are not in the know, celebrities that endorse a certain product, service or website don’t actually use it. So the next time you see a 95-pound model endorse Carl’s Jr. take it with a grain of salt. Or, if you witness a celebrity promote a credit card, come to the realization they don’t really use that plastic.
Celebrities do it strictly for the money, and who can blame them? Wouldn’t you eat a burger or hold a bottle of cologne for $5 million?
8. Content You Read Online is Done for SEO
Finally, something that is likely the biggest secret in the online advertising world: a lot of the content you consume online is done for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. That’s right. If you read something on a particular news website or a popular blog be sure to think that it’s written to get a higher ranking, hawk a link to a website or promote a new startup.
Although today’s generation of SEO does primarily consist of engaging content, publishers and writers don’t necessarily take you, the reader, into consideration. It’s all about the SERPs and extra revenues.
Advertising is something we all despise greatly. We especially detest advertising when something cool becomes corporate. Hashtagging used to be a great thing done by the general public, but every single brand does it now. Facebook was a superb medium to hide from your parents, but who doesn’t have one nowadays? Selfies were done by average folk, but what advertisement doesn’t incorporate a selfie? It seems brands make everything sour.
Ad executives or copywriters won’t necessarily want to reveal some of the tricks of the trade or potential fears, but you should know. So the next time you watch a television commercial or view a pre-click ad, analyze it from a psychological perspective.
Do you have any other behind-the-scenes information from the ad industry? Let us know in the comments section below.