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Psychological Triggers In WebSites

 2:47 am on Mar 25, 2001 (gmt 0)

Read this over..it seems pretty good. Or maybe I'm just a victim of the psychological triggers..


Also, programmers be sure to see this..[URL=http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum29/78.htm]Here[/URL]

Keep it real.
Graham Hurlburt



 11:15 pm on Mar 28, 2001 (gmt 0)

re subliminals

I have a friend <ahem> who once dabbled in this area.

It's not the most ethical and/or legal of practices, but if done right can indeed be effective - as this famous advert [mohammedi.freeserve.co.uk] proved.

If done wrong, however, you're probably opening yourself up to a whole load of legal trouble...


 11:23 pm on Mar 28, 2001 (gmt 0)

There's an oft repeated maxim in copy writing that says good salesmanship emphasizes benefits, not features. This is really a psychological trigger. You talk about how the reader will benefit, and get them to visualize their life after they buy your product/service. That visualization is the psychology that does the magic.

If the copy just prattles on about features, the reader has to do the work of projecting themselves into the role of "owner", and they usually don't. So you end up with copy that's all about you, and psychologically, no one really cares all that much about you (a hard truth, to be sure). People want you to talk about THEM!


 2:11 am on Mar 29, 2001 (gmt 0)

Yes, thats the exact mistake I believe I have made on my site. I got too much into describing our services. Thank you for bringing this fatal error to my attention and I will definatly get on rewriting that as soon as possible!! Now that I think of it, sugarman really got into that method of describing benefits.. As for the subliminal messages, I don't think I will delve to deep into that, maybe test a couple of methods but nothing serious.


 2:22 am on Mar 29, 2001 (gmt 0)

can indeed be effective - as this famous advert proved.
Did that advert actually have a demonstrated improvement in response rate vs. an identical ad sans sleazy subliminals? Or was the increased response caused by the controversy over the sublim content?


 5:31 pm on Mar 29, 2001 (gmt 0)

mivox - yes, I believe there was documented proof of an effect. I read a fascinating article on it (and other more sophisticated ones) a while ago, but I can't find it anywhere...


 6:36 pm on Mar 29, 2001 (gmt 0)

but I can't find it anywhere...

If you do find it, please put up alink! I'd love to take a look at it... I just don't want to beleive that hiding "s-e-x" in some ice-cubes could boost liquor sales.

Edited by: mivox


 7:30 pm on Mar 29, 2001 (gmt 0)

The 'article' I 'read' actually turned out to be a TV program I saw (why do I always assume that *everything* I've done was online?? I need get out more I suppose...)

Anyway, I found this thesis which covers the same ground. Interesting read.

<link snipped because it now points to adult material - oilman>

(edited by: oilman at 9:01 pm (gmt) on Oct. 28, 2001)


 7:58 pm on Mar 29, 2001 (gmt 0)

Thanks... got it bookmarked!


 10:39 pm on Mar 29, 2001 (gmt 0)

>>Most people I have conversed with will eventually acknowledge the existence of subliminal advertising, but refuse to believe it has any effect on their buying behavior and especially their sanity. These people can be categorized from laymen to professional educators. These attitudes do not reflect a very healthy and hopeful environment, unless you are an advertiser or corporate stockholder.

Hmm that reminds me of some people on this thread ;). Okay, I guess you guys aren't insane..


 1:28 am on Apr 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

Does anyone know of any good, reliable references to influencing visitor's through colors?



 1:58 am on Apr 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

There is a lot of information on color theory here [colormatters.com], as well as excellent links


 7:53 pm on Apr 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

Anyway, I found this thesis which covers the same ground

Maybe I'm blind, but after reading the whole thesis, and looking at all the pictures, I saw probably less than 25% of the "hidden" subliminal images the author claimed were there... even after being told exactly what and where the images were.

The whole piece left me with a sort of "emperor's new clothes" kinda feel... One advertisement's glass of ice & bourbon (or whatever) was supposed to contain hidden images of everything from a man on a horse to a naked woman, to a person having s*x with a polar bear, to three (or so) human skulls!?!

I don't doubt that subliminal imagery or text could have an effect on people, just as certain colors evoke different moods, and different fonts have different effects on the feel of a piece. However, I don't think the advertising industry is bombarding us with hidden pictures of polar bear besti@lity, human skulls and symbolic female genitalia in every crevice of an advertisement.

There has to be some happy medium somewhere between total disbelief and total paranoia...


 8:21 pm on Apr 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

I've been following this killer thread from the beginning. There is a lot to be said about subliminal advertising and it really is an esoteric science.

There is one constant that we all may be overlooking here though. Repitition. Frequently placing yourself in front of the buyers. Persistent frequency. Whether through and auto-follow up system or perhaps a monthly newsletter, constantly building up your image as a "must have".

Back to the "it's a numbers game" theory. Target your traffic and then "impression" them until they die or buy.

The colors, artwork, subliminals, coolness factor, designer whizbang thingamaflotchies are all secondary to the fact that the more people who see it, the more possibilities you'll make a sale.


 9:40 pm on Apr 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

I don't think the advertising industry is bombarding us with hidden pictures

I don't think it's all that widespread these days - I think that article was written in the 70s. I seem to recall that such practices are actually illegal in many jurisdictions now. The principle of psycholgical manipulation is definitely still used though - the imagery used in advertising is carefully chosen to push the buttons of the target audience... it's the same principle only more subtly done.

Repitition. Frequently placing yourself in front of the buyers

Good point, BH. That's how I justify buying banners on Yahoo. The ctr is negligible (although way above average since I placed all the subliminals in the banner ;) but I strongly believe that the branding value is worth it if impressions are well targetted.

Good thread here [webmasterworld.com] on the subject


 9:50 pm on Apr 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

the imagery used in advertising is carefully chosen to push the buttons of the target audience... it's the same principle only more subtly done.

Of course! The whole point of advertising is to make you want to buy... the ad makes you feel good about a product, makes you feel that the product will give you a desired benefit of some kind. So people get huge focus groups together to find out whether version A or B of the website/product package/traditional ad in question makes people feel warmer and fuzzier about the product.

But, would embedding little hidden skulls in ice cubes really help? (Or polar bear p*rn, for that matter?) And was *any* of that stuff really so widespread? Even in the 70's? How could you outlaw it anyway? I couldn't see most of the "hidden images" referenced in the article, even after being told exactly where to look... can you really outlaw something you can't even see or prove?


 10:32 pm on Apr 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

I think the whole idea was to grab attention, especially subconscious attention, as the reader thumbed past the advertising page. Once your attention is grabbed by subliminal techniques, the message can be delivered.

One of the frequently used techniques (especially ads in Pl@yboy and other @dult publications) was to play with gender -- airbrushing a female's head and face onto a masculine torso and that kind of thing. We know, deep in our cells, how a male body tends to be proportioned, and how a female body tends to be proportioned. The intermingling of the two produced a subtly disconcerting affect that definitely grabbed attention.

A close-up of a female face with male hands also caught in the shot was a common ploy. The hands might be positioned as if they were hers, but a close look would tell you that they were not. However, the mis-match would pull your attention to the ad.

Major cultural taboos were/are played with in this manner. Any ad that uses three models has a rich ground for playing around with body language and props. Some of the methods used get into territory I would not put into words on this forum.

I used to maintain a scrapbook of some of the most obvious subliminal visual techniques, but I lost it moving a while back.


 10:37 pm on Apr 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

I used to maintain a scrapbook of some of the most obvious subliminal visual techniques, but I lost it moving a while back.

ARGH!! I would have paid you to scan and upload it for me... as far as visual tricks like you describe, they're used all the time. I think it's fascinating. The human psyche notices things in ways we don't usually realize...


 11:47 pm on Apr 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

"generic US marketing copy."

eg.. Think about it when you go to a jewelry store what do you see, Black velvet and bright light for diamonds. They are not going to put diamonds against white paper or cloth, there needs to be contrast. If you have lived in a bad part of any town what do you see... cigarette adds and billboards with a beautiful woman and a bottle of some booze, when you know that that bottle is not going to get you any closer to that woman on the billboard than Columbus was to Asia. Late night TV you see all of the get-rich-scams, the commercial agencies know that most people who are up that late are not going to a regular/normal job the next morning. There are some exclusions. So if you would like to sell something on the web put it where your target audence is going to find it. Ask yourself in directories where do you put things (eg. cars) in the place it is most likely to be found.

In reference to colors think about it, what sites do you run from; Hot pink, red, blistering yellow and the other colors that make your eyes bleed when you look at the screen. Anyone have any good examples???

If anyone gets this book let me know if it is common sence or is the CIA exceed all of our expectations.

Some of this is a rant.


 12:40 am on Apr 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

just on colors, though not sublminal..

We read somewhere that high contrasting colors should be avoided. Some tests we ran did back this up when comparing the exact same pages, with a high contrast look and a more subtle color changes. People stayed much longer on the latter, and they clicked on more. They also reported the contrasting colors were "jaring" and the more subtle ones were "relaxing" and "comfortable".

In web design, I know I automatically used to go for high contrasts, something about making the page have impact. If we use high contrast now, its in small strips or blocks, or in sections and graphics we really want people to notice. If you have too much other contrast you distract people from parts of the page you really want them to notice.

Using different shades of similar and restricted color ranges.. (WMW is a good example with the pastel shades of blues, greys and greens) is also recommended by many. For what it's worth thats what we are doing with our sites.


 1:23 am on Apr 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

Mivox, you seem to have read a pretty cool article..care to share the address for it with us?

-"WMW is a good example with the blues and greens."
I didn't know WMW had shades of green..


 1:37 am on Apr 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

It's the thesis article sugarkane linked to above...

here's the link again since we seem to be a few inches away from the old one at this point! ;)

<link snipped because it now points to adult material - oilman>

(edited by: oilman at 9:00 pm (gmt) on Oct. 28, 2001)


 7:23 am on Apr 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

My 2p on the bold text, very irritating - it draws my eye to it but when i'm trying to actually read its very annoying!

The subliminal Gin advert amazed me, I spent a couple of minutes looking for the message, then read down the posts and once I knew what I was looking for I couldn't believe i'd missed it.


 4:16 am on Apr 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

Oh okay, I thought it was a different one..

I thought the pictures in the thesis were very vague and hard to make out. In the picture with the girl playing with the doll, how does that portray anything close to se*ual? As for the s-e-x one, I don't know how you missed that..It was the first thing I saw, even before I saw the bottle of gin. Hmmm, well maybe someone will pick out something refering to s*x in the doll picture that I didn't catch that will seem obvious to everyone else..who knows..I'm not young enough to know everything.


 6:28 am on Apr 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

In general, this website has done a really lousy job with their graphics. That's a shame, because the whole point is about visuals, and most people will not accept the thesis from what they see (or don't see) here.

I just did some poking around the web, and there is a total chaos out there about subliminal advertising -- everything from calling it an "Urban Myth" with no basis in fact whatsover, to full blown "You are being brainwashed all the time".

In this article [cnn.com] CNN claims there is no validity to subliminal advertising.

Well, I know what I had in my scrapbook. I'm certain that magazine ads have played with these techniques. The bigger question is, do they work. Nobody's talking. The entire area seems obfuscated to me, and filled with disinformation.

The CNN article I linked to above mentions the political brouhaha last fall about the possible use of subliminals in presidential campaign advertising. Here is the USAToday article [usatoday.com].

I never heard any resolution -- it just vanished from the public radar as far as I know.


 8:21 am on Apr 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

interesting comment from one of our guys here who is a marketing psychologist. His opinion is that subliminal advertising had its peak several decades ago. The rationale back then was that it was a GOOD thing to get advertising to motivate people to buy things, and also that it was GOOD for them not to realise HOW they were being incluenced. It was at a time that there was a lot of public debate on the value and acceptability of advertising as a whole.

Now that advertising is almost universaly accepted (or borne with!) it is no longer as important for advertisers to conceal their messages..

He thinks subliminal advertising is therefor no longer relevant. For some audiences, subtlety is important and for some more direct. But the key is still repitition- repitition - repitition, with a strong brand message - though it may be delivered in different ways..

The Gin ad did nothing for me... Couldnt see anything...

Have to go home early now - have a sudden urge to have a romantic dinner and ****tails with my special someone...

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