Reduce Color for Distant Events
We visualize past and future events in grayscale, so black-and-white colors perform better.
Grayscale ads perform better for future purchases.
In one study, grayscale ads performed better depending on the start date of a charity (Lee, Fujita, Deng, & Unnava, 2017).
- In a few years? Grayscale ads boosted donations.
- In a few days? Color ads boosted donations.
In a follow-up study, people paid a higher price for a hoverboard depending on the launch date:
- In a few years? Grayscale ads boosted payments.
- Tomorrow? Color ads boosted payments.
Why does that happen?
Turns out, we visualize future events in grayscale. Researchers gave people a blank drawing of a housewarming party, and people colored this drawing with more grey if the party was occurring in five years (Lee, Fujita, Deng, & Unnava, 2017).
Always reflect on the timeline of the purchase: Will it occur in the distant future? Then use gray colors to match the mental imagery of viewers. These ads will “feel right.”
- Lee, H., Fujita, K., Deng, X., & Unnava, H. R. (2017). The role of temporal distance on the color of future-directed imagery: A construal-level perspective. Journal of Consumer Research, 43(5), 707-725.