How do Facebook Ads work? Strong Vs Weak Theory

Here is another section of my dissertation that I wanted to share. Looking into the theory of advertising and how it triggers and taps into the brain to generate attention.
Advertising works to build relationships with consumers and emphasises the importance of certain brands. There are two main competing views of how we are persuaded. The first view is the Strong theory, (Attention, Interest, Desire and Action) and the second view is the Weak theory, (Attention, Trial, Reinforcement and Nudging). A lot of expense goes into creative advertising which captures emotional feeling. This is said to encourage people to take an Interest in the brand experience offered and resulting in a purchase. However the opposing theory ATRN suggest that we are already aware of what captures our attention and advertising simply reinforces that certain brands are present and are concerned with driving our awareness.

‘Andrew Ehrenburg of the London business School sees advertising as a weak force, one that cannot act as a prime mover in the capitalist system, but which is used defensively by most advertisers as a means of protecting the status quo’(Jones 1990)
Instead of targeting us with fancy adverts and persuading us to buy, Marketers could take a step back and look at the communication process in general, like how we may simply trial products because of recommendation through Word of Mouth and reviews from others.
Most people have repertoires and especially amongst Fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) products. Within most cases if something stands out to us at a given moment we may buy on impulse simply because we like it.
‘the processes in the brain that carry this out include both a cognitive (thinking) and an affective (emotional) element, as well as a positive emotional affect, simplified as ‘liking’ which has been found to be the a key element in many effective ads.’ (White 2003)
It is not just a case of pushing adverts in front of the consumer’s eyes with a burst of impact but more about the repetition and brand establishment that comes into play.
For well established brands, a major function of continuous advertising is to keep reinforcing this long term memory so that it continues to be easily triggered.’ (McDonald, 1992: 105)
Having adverts on a day to day basis in a popular area supports brand Salience, ‘probability that something will be in the conscious mind at any given moment’ (Sutherland & Sylvester, 2000:16), There is no definite answer that one of these theories works better than another but it is possible to try and understand buyer behaviour to enable us to understand what makes people ‘tick’ and what feeds their emotions.
‘Leath and Riley (1998) argue that it is imperative to understand that emotional and subconscious triggers lead to a product choice. However it is necessary to understand that these ‘need states’ are a result of the situations individuals find themselves in at a particular point of time, and that these will change at different points in time.’ (Yeshin 2006:171)

Social networking sites have created a dramatic shift in the way that consumers interact and communicate, the way that they are formed and the performance within them can demonstrate how they function. Advertising is becoming more targeted as marketing experts are able to find out more about consumer behaviour easily.


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