I’m a retail expert – these are the tricks companies use to get you to buy something… even if you don’t want to


HAVE you ever scrolled through social media and spent your hard-earned money on a product you had never bought before?

Impulse purchases are becoming more common as online shopping grows — and advertising experts are coming up with new tricks to grab your attention and make you part with your money.


Online shopping has made it much easier for advertisers to grab your attention with outlandish tricks and gambitsPhoto credit: Getty

These advertising experts have shared their tricks of the trade so you can learn the tactics, illusions, and moves advertisers use to trick shoppers and convince them to buy their products.

Why you see ads more than once

Mark Smith, a social media strategist at double socialsaid that online platforms use a tactic called “retargeting”.

Retargeting refers to showing a customer the same ad multiple times to ensure the product sticks in their mind.

Mark said: “Consumers are unlikely to buy after seeing an ad just once.

“Therefore, advertisers will identify who has engaged with or interacted with their past ads, assuming that if they have engaged with past ads, they must be in some way interested in the product.

“Advertisers then show them more ads in the hope they can convince you to buy.

“Because of this, when you click on an ad, you’re likely to see a lot more ads from the same company.”

A similar trick used by advertisers explains why you often see similar-looking ads even when switching between different platforms.

Mark added, “If you use an email address to sign up for an email newsletter (and choose to do marketing), advertisers can then push those emails to Facebook, and if you use those emails Mail to create a Facebook profile, they can also show you ads directly on Facebook.

“For advertisers, it’s about showing their product in as many places as possible!”

A picture is worth a thousand words

It might seem obvious, but images play an important role in how ads are sold to you — including in ways you’re not aware of.

Jordan James, Director of Unlock Marketingshared that images can be key to grabbing your attention:

He explained: “A picture is worth a thousand words and it couldn’t be truer when it comes to product promotion.

“Advertisers typically run a series of ads across channels, using a cross section of photos and/or videos to whet your appetite.

“This ranges from simple product images against different backgrounds to lifestyle images with models that look exactly like the target audience.”

Jordan also revealed an industry secret: when it’s a handheld product, advertisers focus on the model’s hands.

When you see other people using a product, you can subconsciously see how you are using it and increase the chances that you will want to buy it.

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celebrities Increase the appeal factor

Seeing your favorite celebrity with a product is a great way to add value to their interest and it can make all the difference.

“It’s no secret that celebrities can help boost sales,” Jordan added.

While people usually assume brands pay for endorsements, the advertising insider revealed that “sometimes the celebrity is happy to be used for promotions in exchange for a freebie or two – which is more common than you might think!

“Advertisers use celebrities who resonate with their product’s audience to make the tills ring!

“The reason celebrities work well is because celebrities are familiar with us and that inspires trust. Trust is a key component in selling any product, especially new ones.”

Draw the customer’s gaze

It can be a challenge for advertisers to catch a person’s eye as they scroll their phone, but there are certain tricks advertisers use to grab your attention and engage your interest.

Rich Mehta, Founder of Strictly digitalsaid that the ability to draw attention to an ad is a key aspect of selling online – and they used a handy trick to achieve it.

“When we want someone to read something or draw their attention to a certain space, we take a picture of someone looking in that direction.

“That means we put someone in an ad looking at the product – that will often draw the customer’s eye to it.”

Rich also said that the average person can’t remember or relate to a brand until they’ve seen or heard about it at least 8 to 10 times – which is why once a brand thinks you’ll be interested, they will could repeat.

Take customers on a journey

Generic advertising that seems to target everyone and everyone is a thing of the past.

Ads have now evolved to try to take you on a journey – and you, when you make a purchase, are the target.

Amanda Philp, Director of Digital Marketing Engineadvertisers say they often try to target you in new ways that make you feel like you’re discovering the product yourself.

The head of marketing said this is key as people are “no longer fooled by clickbait, hyperbole or too good-to-be-true offers”.

“Advertisers need to both grab attention – quickly – and, more importantly, keep it. One hit wonders just don’t work.

“You know, when you’re looking for a product and then you see ads for it everywhere you go online? This takes you through a journey of awareness – with a specific and purposeful end goal that you will eventually succumb to and make the purchase.”

So this is the journey the big hitters will take you online:

  • First, create an initial wish where ads trick you into thinking, “This looks interesting…”
  • Then identify the current problem so you ask yourself, “What’s missing in my life…”
  • Present a solution to this problem so consumers will see that “life will be so much better when I have this…”
  • Present the product repeatedly to create the illusion that it is “shiny and perfect…”.
  • Finally, show the customer where to buy it – and guide them there

“It’s easy to tell which advertisers are right and wrong — the next time you see an ad on your screen, take a moment to analyze it,” Amanda added.

“You’ll know pretty quickly if it speaks to you in your own tone or if those precious pounds on ad spend have been completely wasted on you!”

shock factor is key

In a world where advertising is everywhere, instantly grabbing people’s attention and increasing engagement through controversy, shock, and surprise can be a useful tactic.

James Holden, Head of Marketing at protect linesaid: “The world is saturated with advertising and people are overwhelmed by them to the point where they turn them off completely.

“We use the shock value for effective advertising!

“Grabbing the audience’s attention within the first few seconds is crucial, and sometimes that means using controversy or engagement bait.

Brands want people to have a strong response to their ads, especially online, as this encourages the algorithm to increase the reach of the ad, so shock value is carefully considered and planned for.”

The context can make the difference

When it comes to how an ad is specifically targeted to you, the time and place you see it can determine whether it looks appealing or completely irrelevant.

Abs Hassanali, spokesman for Integral Advertising Sciencean advertising data company, said: “Context is key. All things should be at the right time and in the right place.

“We all like a cold drink every now and then, but consider getting an ad for one on LinkedIn on a Monday morning. We’d much rather see this ad on Facebook on a Friday night!

“Advertising can be super smart and creative, but if it reaches audiences in the wrong environment, they’re likely to fail.

“People are much more likely to buy a product if it’s related to content they’re already viewing.”

The next time you come across an ad, pay attention to the time of day and what platform you’re on – it can make a lot of sense as to why you’re seeing it at that time.

Online advertising experts have revealed their tactics to trick you into buying their products


Online advertising experts have revealed their tactics to trick you into buying their productsPhoto credit: Getty
Advertising professionals use special tricks and gimmicks to grab your attention and spark your interest -- even in surprising ways


Advertising professionals use special tricks and gimmicks to grab your attention and spark your interest — even in surprising waysPhoto credit: Getty

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