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The Psychology of

How to optimize the text, imagery, and framing of ads.


An ad for jeans with the picture of jeans toward the left

Position Images on the Left

Your right hemisphere will process the left side of advertisements.

Ad with dentist on the right who is facing left

Insert a Blockade Toward the Right of Ads

Eye gaze travels from left to right. Insert an element that blocks viewers' gaze from drifting away from the ad.

First person shot of someone writing

Immerse Viewers into 1st Person Perspectives

You’re more likely to buy something if you can imagine using a product.

A billboard ad for a luxury watch

Depict Luxury Products in Far and High Places

Luxury products are more desirable when they are located further away from people.

Displaying book covers where some are tilted

Show Disorganized Assortments From the Past

Disheveled assortments perform better for past viewers because this content feels "touched."


A fitness ad that shows versions of before and after using the product. The before version is in black and white.

Depict the Problem in Grayscale

Visual contrast feels like semantic contrast.

Two ads with a picture and text. In one ad, the picture is desaturated to signify this tactic as a best practice.

Reduce Color in Text-Filled Ads

A lot of text can feel overwhelming, so reduce the level of color in these ads.

Tickets for tomorrow are shown in a vibrant color, whereas tickets for next year are shown in black and white

Reduce Color for Distant Events

We visualize past and future events in grayscale, so black-and-white colors perform better.


An ad for pain relief with "Ouch" in a large font

Enlarge Emotional Words

Large words trigger stronger emotion.

Want a tour? Visit our store

Rhyme Your Slogan or Call-to-Action

Rhymes feel more accurate and truthful.

Three similar ads from the same company, but the logo is in a new location in each ad

Move Your Logo in Ad Variations

Viewers pay more attention to the ad because something feels different.


Three different segments: nerdy middle-aged type, young sporty type, older female type

Choose Models That Resemble Each Segment

People in ads are more effective when they resemble customers.

An ad for donations with a female model looking directly at the viewer

Use Direct Eye Gazes for Virtuous Products

Humans perform “good” behaviors when other people are watching.

Crossed out picture of biker moving in slow motion

Depict Body Movements Without Slow Motion

If somebody is riding a bike in slow motion, your brain will struggle to simulate this action because this body movement is unnatural


Seatbelt ad with car flipped over

Use Negative Ads to Grab Attention

Use negative ads if your goal is immediate action or awareness.

Seatbelt ad with person buckling seatbelt

Use Positive Ads to Be Remembered

Emphasize positive aspects about your brand when you want the message to stick.

Seatbelt ad that shows woman get into a car accident

Run Emotional Ads in Traditional Markets

Brands need to do something unique to stand out in traditional markets.

Woman looking at ad who is searching for something specific

Add Elements From Their Top-Down Attention

Insert cues that viewers are actively monitoring.

Man goes to bed and thinks of ad that showed somebody going to bed

Attach the Product to an Everyday Trigger

Associate your ad with an everyday occurrence to help customers think of your ad during these occurrences.

An orange in the sky as a cloud

Inject Something Absurd or Nonsensical

Absurd advertisements capture attention because they disrupt expectations.

End of commercial with cursor clicking sign up button

End Ads By Illustrating the Next Step

Rather than ask viewers to perform a call-to-action, show a visible example of this action.

Ad Mediums

Ad for course being shown on a website, whereas ad for book being shown in a magazine. Both modalities (video and written) are congruent

Advertise in Congruent Modalities

Find people who are performing behaviors similar to your desired behavior. They will be able to imagine buying and using your product more easily.

An ad for indigestion medicine being shown outside a restaurant

Find Mediums With Congruent Emotions

Find people who are experiencing a helpful emotion, then expose your message to them.

An ad for a cooking class being shown on a cooking website

Advertise in the Same Topic Domain

Help viewers imagine using your product by advertising in the same semantic domain.


Ad for jeans on Monday triggers thought of buying jeans on Wednesday

Advertise Early to Mold Future Simulations

Viewing a commercial can instill plans that will happen weeks later.

Ad for jeans being shown across calendar year

Disperse Ads Over Time

Ads perform better when they are spread apart.