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Subliminal spam advertising?

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Friday September 1, 2006 )

Maybe this “flashing” effect has some potential for legitimate email marketing? People can get so jaded by email that they open up a message, see it’s advertising and just close it immediately. Many people even tune out to traditional animation techniques.

Perhaps in a lightweight email header image a very brief flash of a frame with *nothing* on it and with the second frame set to a very long interval may just be enough to draw more attention; giving the email a second chance at being read instead of closed?

This technique may also have potential in banner ads as well – normal animation is somewhat expected these days, but just a single brief “flash” of a contrasting color a second or two after loading may not be – until many advertisers start doing it of course :). Even if the viewer was focused on another area of the screen, I think the flash would register in their peripheral vision and their eyes would be drawn to it in a reflex action.

This may also help minimize the danger of inducing seizures in people like some animated ads seem to be hell bent on doing :).

I may just give it a try :).

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As I’ve mentioned in the past, spam *can* be useful at times. A spam email I received today set me thinking about the possibilities of using the same approach in a more legitimate way.

In some ways, and I state this *very* grudgingly, spammers are at the cutting edge of marketing. Professional spammers know what products to promote, how to promote them and how to get the message through.

In fact, spam has tipped me off on a couple of occasions on hot products (figuratively speaking) and I’ve gone on to generate some decent revenue from marketing those products in a legitimate way – and no, they aren’t the products you might be thinking of ;).

Many strategies used today used in legitimate marketing have their origins in spam techniques – both email and other forms of online media.

The email I received today appeared to be just a run of the mill stock/shares type of spam – you know the ones; buy penny stocks today, make a million bucks tomorrow :). By the way, if you’re curious about how that all works I’ve posted about “pump & dump” – stock spam scams here.

On opening the email, instead of the usual static .gif with text on it (which helps to evade spam filters); the .gif was animated. The first frame was set to around 1/10th of a second and simply had the words “buy” in large fonts in different colors scattered about the image at various angles. Certainly grabbed my attention, but not because I’m interested in stocks – it just was the flash effect.

Perhaps it was a poor attempt at subliminal advertising?

What is subliminal advertising?

A subliminal ad is one that contains an embedded message that isn’t registered on the conscious mind, but picked up the subconscious. It is said that subliminal messages can help spur a person to take a certain action, especially if the subliminal message is somehow related to what what their conscious mind is also seeing. For example, a drink ad flashing up the words “you are thirsty” repeatedly.

There’s a great deal of debate as to whether subliminal advertising works, and I believe that certain forms of it are outlawed in some countries.

Back to the “subliminal” spam ad – it didn’t realy qualify as being subliminal as my conscious mind certainly registered the flash on the screen. The second frame stayed active for about 10 seconds, then the “buy” message flashed up again.

Maybe this “flashing” effect has some potential for legitimate email marketing? People can get so jaded by email that they open up a message, see it’s advertising and just close it immediately. Many people even tune out to traditional animation techniques.

Perhaps in a lightweight email header image a very brief flash of a frame with *nothing* on it and with the second frame set to a very long interval may just be enough to draw more attention; giving the email a second chance at being read instead of closed?

This technique may also have potential in banner ads as well – normal animation is somewhat expected these days, but just a single brief “flash” of a contrasting color a second or two after loading may not be – until many advertisers start doing it of course :). Even if the viewer was focused on another area of the screen, I think the flash would register in their peripheral vision and their eyes would be drawn to it in a reflex action.

This may also help minimize the danger of inducing seizures in people like some animated ads seem to be hell bent on doing :).

I may just give it a try :).



 

 
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