How can you create persuasive advertisements? Story & Synapse

Persuasive ads aren’t always a viral sensation, but a focus on audience attention and behavior are critical for ads that perform from display banners to tv spots.

When a strategy calls for more impact from your impressions, expect to find the highest performing ads at the intersection of compelling story and cognitive biases.

Cognitive Biases are reliable patterns in cognition (decision making). As a category, this topic explores everything from why having a super-expensive version of the iWatch helped drive sales for the ‘normal’ version (anchoring/focalism) to why a personality test feels so ‘spot on’ – even if it is a little vague (Forer/Barnum Effect.)

Compelling Story becomes the mechanism for gaining and maintaining attention. That you skipped in the first 5 seconds of an ad to watch an hour-long show does not mean you lack time – you had at least an hour for the show. That you skipped DOES mean that the ad just didn’t compete with the show for best story in those first seconds.

By blending the attention-holding power of story with the science behind consumer decision making, a brand can form a formidable and purposeful campaign that is both creative and science-backed.

Insurance commercials (famously) pair disaster stories with loss aversion and the availability heuristic/availability cascade.

Political campaigns blend compelling human-interest stories with declinism to showcase how much worse things have become (or with rosy retrospection to highlight how great the incumbent has been!