Forget everything you thought you knew about advertising …
“The most effective advertisements are the ones consumers don’t even realize they have seen.”
He must be mad!
Yet Dr. Mark Changizi seems sane enough. Does his statement sound crazy to you? Or is it possible that you have been influenced without your knowledge or consent? If you read Changizi’s books, The Vision Revolution and Harnessed, which New Scientist calls “one of the 10 best science books of 2011,” as I have, you might have the urge to forget everything you thought you knew about advertising. In fact, if what Changizi says is true, we may have to rethink the entire marketing industry.
Oddly enough, if I had not read, Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy four years earlier, the Effects Of Unconscious Exposure To Advertisements article by Changizi in ScienceDaily might have passed me by entirely. Buyology opened my mind to the counterintuitive human thinking about cause and effect—simply because we misunderstand our own brains. Simply put—as a species, we defend our illogical and irrational decisions even when we know they are wrong.
Neuroscience is shedding much needed light on the power of the consumer’s subconscious. Gerald Zaltman, a professor at Harvard University, says 95 per cent of consumer decision-making occurs subconsciously. Decision-Making May Be Surprisingly Unconscious Activity is a 2008 article, which concluded that several seconds before we consciously make a decision its outcome can be predicted from unconscious activity in the brain. Cognitive neuroscientist Kalina Christoff at the University of British Columbia says, “We often assume that if we don’t notice our thoughts, they don’t exist. When we don’t notice them, is when we may be thinking most creatively.”
Changizi points out that, “Our everyday visual perceptions rely upon unfathomably complex computations carried out by tens of billions of neurons across over half our cortex. In spite of this, it does not ‘feel’ like work to see. Our cognitive powers are, in stark contrast, ‘slow and painful,’ and we have great trouble with embarrassingly simple logic tasks.”
Scientific American has called Changizi prolific. He has landed on the pages of the New York Times, Time, Newsweek, WIRED, Discover and Forbes. He has made four major discoveries in the last three years about the human visual system’s “superpowers” as he calls them.
I wrote him on March 8 to ask how “the most effective advertisements are the ones consumer’s don’t even realize they have seen.” To my amazement, he replied.
“Hi Paul, Actually, my work that might seem most relevant would be this one, attached. No? (It didn’t make it into any of my books.) ~Mark”
The paper he sent describes the science behind this “mad” new idea. It meshes very well with another email I received on May 4, 2010 from Dr. Terry Sejnowski, Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
“Thanks for your note. The brain is indeed susceptible to the sea of ads around us. This is a neglected area called unsupervised learning. ~Terry”
For over 200 years we have been asking the “slow and painful” cogntive brain if it was influenced by advertising. It didn’t know. It never knew. The visual and emotional brain is the new centre of influence.
Mark my words Terry, what we have here is a game changer!