Rory Sutherland’s Ted Talk on Perspective

“The circumstances of our lives may matter less than how we see them”, says Rory Sutherland.

Roy SutherlandIt’s all about perspective. This is true for all aspects of life, including advertising. At TEDxAthens, Sutherland makes a compelling case for how reframing is the key to happiness. Rory’s main point is that how you frame things changes how you feel about them.  This is a very powerful concept. Sutherland says that much of the power of a situation lies in how we see it and the same can be said for advertising.

Ads can be seen as intrusive, or helpful.  It often depends on the context (which, of course, we can control with online advertising planning).

So here is how that correlates to display advertising.

Consideration of a problem (including advertising) should include technology, psychology and economics, all equally. Above all, Rory suggests that you try to find solutions that sit in the sweet spot of all three. This can be done with a very effective display ad.

He points out that sometimes economically efficient solutions make people unhappy (pay extra to skip a line), but change the psychology (donate the extra to a charity) makes people happy again.  The mistake economists make is to think that money is money. Often in the mind of the consumer, it is about more than money.

This is probably why funny advertising performs better in encouraging consumer purchasing than offering discounts.  If you offer a discount, that is an economic incentive and runs the risk of raising negative connotations of tough economic times. But humor, to be effective, usually relies on a subtle control of frame of reference, which requires understanding the psychological reasons people make purchase choices.

Ludwig von Mises, an Austrian school economist, proposed that perceived value should be considered just as important as any other kind of measure of value. It makes sense when you think about it logically but this is one of those things about human nature that we just don’t always think about on the surface level.  For example, people believe that something that only does one thing does that thing better than everyone else. There is power in specialization. This is a point that really hits home for us at Vantage Local since we specialize only on display advertising. We want to do that one thing better than everyone else rather than trying to do everything that everyone else is doing.

To illustrate the importance of context, Rory used the example of, if you run a restaurant, there is no difference in the value between the value of the food you cook and the value of cleaning the floor. One is controlling the context in which the other can be enjoyed. This is a fantastic point. I lose some enjoyment in a restaurant when I find the floors or the restrooms dirty or when other tables around me have not be bussed in a timely fashion.  Of course, I can’t think of a single commercial in which an eatery pointed out their shining floors as the reason to come visit. But, I know people who cite lack of cleanliness as a point against going to a particular place.  The nice thing about banner ads is that you can say, “We have great food” over top of a well-shot image of a spotless dining room.

Product + context = success!

Do you need help with your display advertising campaign? Have you been looking at advertising with the wrong attitude? We can help you understand and even feel enthused about your ad campaign and show you how to get just the result you want from your ads. Contact us today for more information.


See the video at this link: