We all think we are above advertising. Anyone who has grown up in the last few decades feels they are more immune because the constant exposure we have had for so long. Everywhere we turn someone is trying to sell us something we don’t want.
And for so long, I thought I was above it.
But targeted online advertising works in more subtle ways. It works in ways we aren’t aware of.
Everywhere we turn data is being collected on us. The more information one has about our habits and interests – the more targeted they can be in how they advertise.
And most importantly, they know what we have previously been browsing.
Have you ever gone and shopped for that smartwatch on Amazon and saved it to your wishlist to think about buying later?
Or that dress shirt you were thinking about trying? You can’t decide whether it’s worth it – so you leave it in your shopping cart to decide about it at a later date.
What happens next?
The invisible forces that we call targeted advertising.
This is where the Mere-Exposure Effect comes into play.
All of the sudden, every website you visit starts to show you very subtle ads of that dress shirt or that smart watch. And much of the time, we don’t even hardly notice. We peruse over the ad thinking we can just ignore it and put it out of sight out of mind.
But the mere-exposure effect works in a more subtle way – we tend to develop a preference for things that we have more exposure to. This works in human interactions – the more you see someone, the more like-able that person appears.
And I believe it also applies to the products we buy. It’s partly why brands can be so powerful and lasting. Even though we know coca-cola is just sugar water that provides no nutritional value, we tend to have a positive view of the brand.
The more we see something, the more familiar we become with it, and the more we begin to trust that product or brand.
Hence – after being exposed to repeated ads about that smartwatch or that dress shirt, the more likely we are to be duped into buying it.
Something we were really unsure about, starts to become more sure to us after repeated exposure. And we get pushed in the direction of making a purchasing decision.
It’s not that all of these advertisements are done in a malicious way.
It’s the fact that we don’t even realize what’s happening.
And we think we are above it.
Don’t take my word for it.
Just pay a little closer attention next time you browse.