Spotlight Book Club: 25 Cognitive Biases in Advertising

By Chloe Hague,

Anything is Possible library

Spotlight Book Club is a blog post series where we explore the books that members of the team have been reading during ‘mindful mornings’. This is where we take an hour out of the week to sit down with an industry related book. Each post will be either a book review interview with a member of the team or even just a brief summary of how the book is going.

In this post, we speak to Lois Hulbert.

Lois graduated from the University of Sussex, achieving a BSc in Mathematics with Economics and now works for Anything is Possible as our skilled Data Analyst. The book she has just finished is The Choice Factory by Richard Shotton. The Choice Factory is a comical spin on the principles of behavioral economics. The book is filled with complex biases that are explained in a concise and informative way. Shocking anecdotes and studies attract as well as relate to the reader, making this book accessible to anyone who had not previously studied a behavioural science before. 

The book reaches into the core of conscious and unconscious decisions made by a purchaser, and explains the reasoning behind it. This allows us to understand the minds of consumers in more depth, and apply this valuable knowledge within our own work, thus facilitating more precise ideas and a strengthened targeting strategy. The Choice Factory won #1 in the BBH World Cup of Advertising Books in 2018 and also won in the Sales and Marketing category in at the 2019 Business Book Awards.

25 Behavioural Biases to use in advertising

Let’s find out what Lois thinks...

1. What was your key takeaway from this book?

There’s too many, every chapter has a different anecdote or scientific study which explains a different bias that can be used to help us achieve better results in a market environment.

2. Can you give an example of one of these biases, and a scientific study that demonstrated it?

The pratfall effect, it’s where brands flaunt their flaws to make them more appealing, this is because it increases approachability, for example, two actors answered a series of quiz questions in front of a group of subjects. One actor had previously been shown the answers, and answered the majority of questions correctly. The other actor (exhibiting the pratfall effect) wasn’t prepared and only answered some of the questions correctly, then pretends to spill coffee over himself. The outcome was that the man portraying a pratfall was more liked by the audience. This effect has been known to increase sales, e.g the Beatle car, this model was once advertised with the headline ‘It’s ugly, but it gets you there’, consequently, sales were increased.

3. Are there any studies you think relate to the workplace?

Yes, the mood study: this is about the benefit of targeting your ads to match someone’s mood. This is because receptivity to ads grow when people are in a good mood, for example a way you can do this, is targeting at the cinema, people are more likely to be in a good mood in a relaxed environment with friends and family, therefore more likely to be persuaded by advertising. 

This study can help to explain to us why conversions are higher for our clients within the leisure industry when the suns out, as naturally people are in a better mood and more likely to spend money i.e on ticket sales.  

Another way this can be applied is matching the message to the mood. It’s unlikely that consumers will be in a good mood all the time, so we can investigate to find out situations or places people will be in, and match our messaging to how they are likely to be feeling at that moment

4. Well done for finishing your first marketing book! How do you think mindful mornings has helped you with your internship?

Well, whilst being at uni completing my maths degree, my focus on numbers and statistics meant I didn’t read books as much as I probably should have. I enjoy being able to sit down for an hour a week and engage in a top industry related book whilst still retaining information which relates to my job. I love being able to absorb information in such a different way to usual which enables me to share new and valuable knowledge with my colleagues.

5. And just to wrap it up, what book are you going to be reading next?

Rationality by Stewart Sutherland, hopefully that will be good, I’m looking forward to finding out. Talk soon!