Perceptual errors hack in digital marketing

A person automatically pays attention to things that did not expect to see within specific content. Its called ‘perceptual errors’ and can be used to increase a return on some of your marketing efforts.

Only 1% of what we see exists or, to be precise, comes through the visual channel. The remaining 99% – the work of the mind, enhancing reality with the help of attitudes and patterns of perception, laid down from childhood or obtained as a result of previous experience.

A simple example: in the language of Eskimos about 40 words, denoting different states of snow – melt, just dropped, frozen etc. Therefore Eskimos child can tell those 40 types of snow apart while European kid wont see all those details simply because he was not taught to.

Let’s talk about so-called visual inconsistencies or perception errors – situations where distinct visual information, which cannot be ignored, does not fit into the visual algorithm (perception pattern). At such moments, the brain begins to require additional information to process and expand the cognitive pattern. Let’s talk about how to use this hack in marketing.

Scientific example of perception error

Imagine you got on a website and saw two banners. The design of the first fits perfectly into the overall design of the page; the second looks completely alien. Which banner will you remember?

In a 2008 Michael Dahlen, Professor of Marketing and Management at the Stockholm School of Economics, studied the effect of advertising on thematic and non-thematic (incongruent) platforms. As expected, the impact of advertising on incongruent sites was higher.

There are quite a lot results (scholar works) in Google for ‘Effects of Ad-Brand Incongruence’ I think its worth to check out.

Ideas for using perceptual errors in marketing

  • try to impress the user with something unusual for your niche on the first visit (I love a Medium email sign up promo in this regard)
  • Use bold unmatching colors & fonts for important highlights (hello Dropbox redesign)
  • Test some unusual platforms for your ads (it is impressive how e.g., on humor-devoted sites like 9gag one can find leads for digital marketing and SEO services)