Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Google Search Advertising



This is a print advert for Google’s search advertising business. Jon Steel, in his book “Truth, Lies, and Advertising: The Art of Account Planning”, emphasises the importance in media planning and buying agencies of finding the most appropriate platform on which to implement their strategy. A recent development here is the shift from focussing upon efficiency of a campaign, to its effectiveness. Efficiency involves the advertising receiving the maximum amount of exposure possible, whereas actual effectiveness is more to do with targeting consumers who will actually take note of the message delivered. Google utilises this idea, through implicit suggestion that advertising through their search engine; targeting consumers who are searching for products and services, is more effective than traditional forms of advertising such as in newspapers.

The clever element to this campaign however, is that the platform on which Google produced the advert was contrary to the message being given; it was run in Globe and National Post newspapers. Despite supporting traditional newspaper advertising, they imply that a more effective way to advertise services is through integration with their search function. The concept of misleading inference and comparative advertising is involved here, defined by Pratkanis (2007) as using implicit comparatives to influence the consumer towards the message, and away from the alternatives. This is supported by many studies on indirect (implied) comparisons in advertising, such as Shimp (1978). They found that incomplete comparatives (for example, not directly stating that your brand is better than another), resulted in participants giving enhanced accounts of what they thought the advert asserted. For example, although the advert they used made no reference to “value for money”, they stated that this claim was made. The consequence is that participants receive extra messages not included in the advert that will influence their cognition, simply through the implied comparison.

Pratkanis (2007). The science of social influence: Advances and future progress. Psychology Press.

Shimp, T. A. (1978). Do incomplete comparisons mislead? Journal of Advertising Research, 18(6), 21-27.

Steel, J. (1998). Truth, Lies and Advertising: the Art of Account Planning. Chichester: John Wiley.

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