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When it comes to sniffing out deceptive advertising, consumers are savvier than many marketers give them credit for. According to new research, people are able to spot deceptive ads and quickly dismiss them if they view them as overly dishonest.
The findings are based on new research that found that found that people were able to distinguish between deceptive advertisements and those that were believable because of heightened activity in specific areas of the brain. This research, which is published online in the Journal of Marketing Research, proved this by showing participants advertisements deemed to be either "highly believable," "moderately deceptive" or "highly deceptive" and then using an MRI to watch how their brains responded.
"We did not instruct participants to evaluate the ads," said Stacy Wood, study co-author and professor of marketing at North Carolina State University. "We wanted to mimic the passive exposure to advertising that we all experience every day. We found that people have a two-stage process they go through when confronted with moderately or highly deceptive ads."
What the researchers found was that the more deceptive the ad, the more quickly people are able to spot it.
"We found that the more deceptive an advertisement is, the more you are drawn to it, much as our attention is drawn to potential threats in our environment," Wood said.
Basically, consumers see the ad as a threat and become suspicious of it.
The paper was co-authored by Wood, lead researcher Adam Craig of the University of South Florida, Yuliya Loureiro of Fordham University and Jennifer Vendemia of the University of Southern California.