Advertising Psychologist Career and Schooling Guide [2024]

What is Advertising Psychology?

Advertising psychology is a branch of psychology that studies consumer preferences, wants, needs, and desires, in order to help businesses develop products and services that are useful for consumers.

The goal of advertising psychology, also known as marketing psychology and consumer psychology, is to help businesses effectively promote a product or service.

More specifically, this branch of psychology focuses on developing advertisements (ads) that persuade consumers to purchase specific items.

Advertising psychology develops and implants subliminal messages within ads to encourage consumers to purchase a good. Consumers, then process these promotional ads by analyzing, deciphering, and comprehending the messages hidden inside of them. This advertising psychological technique grabs the attention of consumers, then creates an interest in the product or service, which then peaks their interest, and causes them to make a purchase.

Ultimately, this branch of psychology creates and utilizes various methods and techniques to motivate consumers to purchase certain goods.

What Does an Advertising Psychologist Do?

Advertising psychologists analyze the thoughts and behaviors of consumers to better understand what types of products and services they would purchase.

These psychologists then pass the information onto businesses to help them improve their products and services, create new products and services that better align with what consumers want and need, and discontinue products and services that are ineffective and not useful anymore. These businesses take the information provided by advertising psychologists, and develop advertisements (with input from psychologists) that will motivate consumers to purchase certain goods.

The goal of advertising psychologists is to help businesses develop ads that consumers can relate to. As mentioned previously, these ads are laced with hidden marketing messages that have been developed to “get inside of the brains” of consumers.

In addition, advertising psychologists conduct research studies with participants to determine the target populations, then they study specific consumer population segments (the target market). The goal of advertising psychologists is to take into account a consumer’s thought processes, behaviors, ideology, socio-economic status, finances, and level of maturity, in order to create ads that will improve or increase product sales.

Advertising psychologists recommend advertisement images, wording, colors and/or models that will appeal to certain consumer bases. They can also instill fear and anxiety in people through advertisements. In other words, if a company or organizations wants to “scare” people (consumers) they can by focusing on their fears, in order to prevent them from purchasing an item or performing a certain action.

What are the Education Requirements to Become an Advertising Psychologist?

To become an advertising psychologist, one must earn a bachelor’s degree (in a field of his or her choice), master’s degree in psychology, and a doctorate in psychology with a focus on advertising or a related field.

At the graduate level, students learn how to combine psychological approaches, methods, and techniques with consumer trends, preferences, likes, dislikes, wants and needs, in order to develop effective and appealing product/service advertisements.

Most graduate psychology programs also require students to complete a thesis (extensive research study on an advertising psychology topic), and 6 month internship at an approved advertising/marketing agency, government organization, etc.

At the doctoral level, students are required to complete a dissertation (an even longer research paper on an advertising topic), and a 6 month to 1 year internship at an organization that focuses on marketing products and services.

While in a doctoral advertising psychology program, students learn how to analyze and interpret consumer trends and marketing needs. They also learn how to assess the behaviors of consumers, especially those in certain target markets.

Students  may also learn how to identify cognitive processes, developmental stages, societal influences, and neuropsychological factors that influence what consumers purchase, and why they purchase them. The data collected is then used to create effective ads that will attract consumers towards certain goods.

It is important to note that some graduate programs require students to have an undergraduate degree in one of the following areas: consumer behavior, advertising, marketing, or psychology, but that is rare.

A master’s degree may allow students to seek mid-level advertising/marketing jobs, while a doctorate (Ph.D.) degree allows students to reach at the university level, and seek upper-level advertising/marketing jobs.

Some of the courses students take at the graduate and doctoral levels include: psychology, statistics, research methods, consumer trends, business marketing, and economics.

In most states, licensure is required to use the title “psychologist”. Requirements for licensure generally include (but not limited to) an APA accredited doctoral degree in psychology, supervised experience under a licensed psychologist, and passing licensure examination (some states may have additional requirements).

What are the Careers in Advertising Psychology?

Listed below are few advertising psychology careers:

Market Research Consultants

Advertising psychologists often enter the field of marking research. Advertising psychologists use research skills to conduct consumer-related research studies. These psychologists send the results to businesses, so that they can improve their products or services. The results are also used to solve marketing-related issues and conflicts. Marketing research consultants must have strong research skills and be able to accurately and clearly present findings to corporate executives.

Market Research Analysts

It is common for advertising psychologists to seek employment, as market research analysts. Market research analysts study market conditions in certain geographic locations, in order to determine how effective and successful a product or service will be with certain consumer bases.

The primary duty of this psychologist is to gather data through polls, questionnaires, research studies, surveys, focus groups, and interviews. The goal is to collect data (information) on consumer preferences, buying trends, sales numbers, prices, and distribution.

Once the market research analysts have collected the necessary data, it is compiled into comprehensive reports (i.e. graphics, statistics, etc.) and distributed to businesses to help them create or improve products and services.

E-Mail Advertisers

Advertising psychologists also seek jobs as e-mail advertisers. E-mail advertisement is a combination of psychology and economics. The goal of e-mail advertisers is to determine what causes consumers to purchase certain goods.

These psychologists study consumer spending, so that they can create advertisements that will make them want to purchase certain items. E-mail advertisers develop e-mail advertisements that motivate consumers to purchase products or services.

According to numerous psychological studies, consumers are more receptive towards shorter, precise emails than longer wordy ones; therefore an effective e-mail advertiser creates e-mails that are clean and straight-to-the-point, rather than wordy, flashy and/or jumbled ones.

The primary function of an e-mail advertiser is to collect data on spending trends, and analyze the results, in an effort to improve products and services, and increase sales.

Advertising Sales Representatives

Lastly, many advertising psychologists become advertising sales representatives. The primary role of these psychologists is to sell classified ad spaces. They also develop and distribute consumer data, prepare marking presentations, prepare prospective consumer lists, and create catchy, thought-provoking advertising designs.

Most advertising psychologists will acquire employment at government organizations, advertising/marketing agencies, manufacturing industries, multi-national businesses, large firms, and media companies.

What is the Employment Outlook for Advertising Psychologists?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of psychology is expected to increase approximately 6% by the year 2032. As the economy continues to improve, the need for advertising psychologists may increase. Why? Well, because more people will purchase goods and services, which means that more businesses will need psychologists to help them develop items that will sell.

In addition, as more people start businesses, they will want the aid of advertising psychologists to help them determine what consumers really want and need. In other words, these businesses will need psychologists to help them “get inside of the minds” of consumers, so they can create ads that will appeal to them.

How Much Does an Advertising Psychologist Make?

According to Simply Hired, advertising/marketing psychologists can expect to make approximately $105,833, per year, on average, as of February 2024. It is important to note that annual salaries for advertising psychology positions are based upon the location, experience, company, industry, education, and the training of the psychologist.

Related Reading

Further Resources

Copyright © 2024 All Rights Reserved. Program outcomes can vary according to each institution's curriculum and job opportunities are not guaranteed. This site is for informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional help.