For all the social media experts there are out there, advertising over the media is still pretty much a crapshoot. Psychster, a consulting firm that studies the psychology of social computing, hopes to learn how consumers react ps

ychologically to the types of ads most commonly encountered in social media.

Psychster had survey respondents watch a video about one of seven types of ads and then respond to questions about their engagement, perceptions and purchase intent. Based on the responses, the firm has a few conclusions of the efficacy of the various of ad categories:

For brand awareness and positive associations, sponsored content might be the best choice.

“Give and Get” widgets, which allow customers to create branded content and keep it or share it with friends, were more engaging than banner ads but just as likely to lead to sales.

Newsletters and banner ads were most the likely to be seen as advertising, but banner ads increased the likeliness that someone would mention a brand to their friends.

The most successful way of creating purchase intent was through corporate profiles, but only if consumers can become a fan and put the brand on their own profile.

Psychster explains the mechanism behind this:
Why might becoming a fan and putting a logo on one’s own profile cause an increase in purchase intent? The classic phenomena of cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957) is likely to be at play. For decades psychologists have observed that people strongly avoid the tension associated with discrepancies between their actions and their behavior. So not surprisingly, once people purchase products from a brand, they report liking the brand more. But the reverse is also true – when people declare publicly that they like a brand (by putting a logo on their profile for all of their friends to see) they are more likely to buy from it.

By Mark Alvarez