Why advertising is scary October 11, 2009 cliffski I’m starting some very basic ads for GSB, in anticipation of actually releasing it soonish. As a result, I’m fiddling with ad settings a lot. I get quite into it. Modern web-advertising is far far better and different to the classic advertising on TV or billboards or magazines that have existed all these years. You can literally do this with web ads: “Bid for $0.08 per click for ads of this size on this specific site if the viewers time-zone is currently 7.30Pm – 9.30PM, on a Wednesday, and increase that bid by 10% if they are under 35 years old and reduce by 25% if they are female, making sure they do not see this specific ad more than 4 times today on that specific site. Only show this ad to English speaking people in New Zealand.” You might think that’s overkill, but the thing is 99% of your competitors are big companies (measured by ad budget) and they ALL have people dedicated to getting those settings right. Ever wondered how the hell you see EVONY ads everywhere? How can they afford it? They can’t, but if you are aged 18-40 and visit gaming sites on weekday evenings, that’s a much more affordable niche to bombard. So we establish that ads are VERY targetable and configurable, but why scary? Because they work. Seriously. I know everyone thinks they don’t and that we are immune, but trust me, you are not. I used to think that people ‘like me’ were ‘above’ ads, and that because I knew so much about PR and marketing, that I saw through their tricks. Then I read this book. Advertising works because it affects your brain just like any other input. You probably associate the sound of birdsong with calm and peace, because over many years, when you have heard birdsong, its been peaceful and calm, and so your brain lays down patterns of neuron connections that associate birdsong = calm. This is how you learn EVERYTHING. Including pleasure. The smell of muffins with strawberry jam is associated by me with pleasure because I tend to experience the visual appearance of them shortly before I experience the pleasure of the taste. Our whole brains work this way, and good luck re-wiring them. This is why ads work. They show you a busty supermodel next to a sports car, and your ‘higher brain’ thinks ‘cheap trick’ but your subconscious brain thinks ‘cars are sexy‘. You can’t stop it. It’s literally impossible, if you have physically seen the ad. This is where it gets scarier: There is a part of your brain called the amygdala. It gets visual input before anything else, and passes it on afterwards. It takes actions before the higher level part of your brain kicks in, and it is the part that works on strong emotions. The strongest emotion is fear. This is why when you sometimes jump in shock when you watch a horror movie. There is no reason to do so. The TV cannot attack you, you are safe, its just TV, but all these thoughts come in long after the fear response. In short, the fear response will lay down strong neural connections before your higher brain even gets to point out how incorrect that is. This is why political ads rely on fear. Fear works. GALACTIC WAR IS COMING! BE AFRAID! YOU MUST BUY GRATUITOUS SPACE BATTLES NOW! WOMEN IN BIKINIS WILL LOVE YOU!!!11111 ahem.