Advertising psychology uses the latest psychological findings to increase the effectiveness of advertisements. With the proliferation of ads on TV and the internet, the competition for consumers’ interest has spiraled upward, so advertisers are increasingly turning to advertising psychologists to gain a competitive edge.
Advertising psychologists work closely with conventional marketers who provide them with the demographics of the target audiences for a company’s products. Psychologists then research these target audiences to come up with the most effective strategies for convincing the audiences to buy the products. They study factors like the age, gender, philosophy, culture, education and race of the target audience to better understand what makes the audience choose one product over another.
The first task of an ad is to attract the attention of the target audience. Ads can do this with images or sounds tailored for to the target audience. Sights and sounds can also help stimulate the audience’s need for the product: for example, advertisements for food might show images of delicious-looking food that will arouse hunger.
Related: How to Become a Media Psychologist
Once the audience’s attention has been grabbed, advertising psychologists employ various means of persuasion, such as using the “voice of authority” to boost the audience’s confidence in the product: “Two out of three doctors recommend…”
Advertising psychologists also use the power of the audience’s emotions, particularly that of fear. The fear of scarcity, for example, can be aroused by using phrases like “Limited supply available.” Advertisements for health products commonly use fear, hoping to scare the audience by amplifying a danger that threatens them. Advertisers can also appeal to the audience’s vanity by exposing their fear of aging or their loss of sex appeal.
Types of Degrees
The best path for getting a job in advertising psychology is to get a degree in psychology, marketing or advertising. A degree in psychology is often the safest bet, because it’s much more useful for jobs in other fields than degrees in advertising or marketing are. If you choose a degree in psychology, you’ll need to take a heavy concentration of classes (or a double major) in advertising or marketing.
An associate degree in psychology, marketing or advertising is sometimes enough for an entry-level job in advertising. You can get an associate degree in two years at a community college, and it affords you the flexibility of either trying to get a job after getting the degree or continuing your education at a university in order to get a bachelor’s degree. But before deciding to attend a community college, make sure that all of its courses are transferrable to a university you might want to attend.
A bachelor’s degree in psychology is adequate for many lower-level jobs in advertising psychology. A Bachelor of Science may better prepare students for jobs that require a lot of scientific research, while a Bachelor of Arts offers better people skills and a broader base in psychology. If you know the type of advertising job you want to pursue, check the qualifications for it before deciding which bachelor’s degree to choose. If you aren’t sure, the Bachelor of Science is probably a safer option.
A master’s degree qualifies students for most mid-level jobs in advertising, as well as some upper-level jobs.
A PhD degree is required for teaching at a university and for some upper-level jobs.
According to the Bureau of Labor, jobs in advertising, marketing and promotions is expected to rise 12% from 2012 to 2022, which is the average rate of expected growth for all jobs. Careers in advertising are available nearly everywhere, for a wide variety of companies.
According to the Bureau of Labor, the median pay rate for managers in advertising, marketing and promotions in 2012 was $115,750 per year or $55.65 per hour.