Friday, June 15, 2012

Frequency = Trust

I am currently reading Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. This book is a review of current psychological research concerning the human decsion making process and the subconscious. A lot of the material covered in this excellent book is directly related to the selling process and to ad design. Of particular interest was the book's discussion of the "mere exposure effect." As media people we've always known that regular advertising is the key to building a business, this concept explains why frequency matters and provides  experimental proof of its impact on the minds of readers. One study described in Kahneman's book used ads placed in a unniversity newspaper featuring a series of made up nonsense words. Some words appeared just twice, some five times, 10 times and so on up to 50 times. The ads only contained the one word and when inquiries were made about them, the callers were told "the advertiser has requested anonymity." After all the ads ran, readers were surveyed and asked if the words conveyed "good" things or "bad" things. The reposndents expressed "good" feelings about the words that they had seen most frequently and "bad" thoughts about those repeated less often. Psychologists believe that when we are exposed to something on a regular basis and nothing "bad" happens we come to trust that item. In addition to building TOMA (top of the mind awareness), frequent advertising builds trust in the advertiser's business. This trust is particularly important in a tight economy when consumers are reticent to part with their money until they are 100% confident they are making the right decision.