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How Does Advertising Influence Your Buying Decisions?

Gaining a little insight into the methods behind persuasive advertising techniques can help you understand how they ultimately affect your buying decisions.

December 29, 2021

Have you ever just had to have something you saw in an advertisement? 

Maybe it was a sponsored product that popped up on your TikTok feed or a must-have piece of fashion featured in a commercial with your celebrity crush.

There are many different types of advertising approaches, and they’re all designed to stop you in your tracks so you can start spending money. 

If you’ve noticed any of the above scenarios happening, you might be wondering: How does advertising affect your buying decisions? 

Gaining a little insight into the methods behind persuasive advertising techniques can help you understand how they ultimately affect your buying decisions. This can make you more mindful of spending triggers and emotional purchases that stand to disrupt your financial goals. 

How does advertising work?

Let’s start with a bit of history. 

The origins of modern advertising date back as far as the late 1700s in the form of catalogs, labels, trade cards, images and business papers, to name a few. Basically, businesses began to find unique ways to distinguish themselves from the competition. Though the techniques and media have continued to evolve, the core concept of standing out still remains the same. 

In its simplest form, advertising involves calling public attention to a particular product, need or service, using different mediums of delivery, such as newspapers, radio, television, billboards, social media posts, magazine ads and other communication channels. 

Advertising works by creating a pattern of associations that elicit an emotional connection or response in the intended audience, ultimately influencing the consumer’s purchasing decisions, often in an unconscious way. 

Different types of advertising

There are tons of different types of advertising techniques floating around out there, and each one is tailored to a particular audience. 

Here are a few common advertising methods you might run into as a modern-day consumer:

  • Print advertising – printed ads in magazines, newspapers and other hard copy communications 

  • TV, radio and podcast advertising – on-air commercials 

  • Direct mail advertising – brochures, catalogs, newsletters, etc., that are sent via snail mail 

  • Mobile advertising – ads that pop up through social media, apps or websites on a mobile phone or device

  • Pay-per-click advertising – search engine advertising that allows companies to bid on keywords related to their business and pay only when a person clicks on the ad 

  • Display advertising – banner ads and pop-up ads that are particularly popular online 

  • Social media advertising – ads that are targeted to specific demographics based on the personal information they provide on their social media profile 

  • Product placement advertising – a product that’s discreetly featured in a television show or movie

  • Outdoor advertising – ads that are visible on billboards, buildings, sides of buses or trains, etc. 

What makes a good advertisement?

With so many different kinds of persuasive advertising techniques out there, is there some kind of magic formula to determine what actually works? 

Extensive research has been conducted on what compels a consumer to make a purchase. A 2019 study from the International Journal of Arts and Commerce (IJAC) called “The Impact of Advertising on Consumers Buying Behaviour” found that, for an advertisement to be considered effective, it should: 

  • Appeal to a target audience that’s been extensively studied, so the business can learn their consumption patterns and buying behavior 

  • Be directed to the consumer on an emotional level, since consumers are highly induced and motivated by their emotions 

  • Use sensory stimulation that enhances the user experience and enables the consumer to obtain more information — e.g., by clicking 

How does advertising affect your buying decisions?

To illuminate how advertising can impact you as a consumer, let’s use a little example. 

Pretend you’re a new pet owner who recently posted a bunch of photos of your puppy on your Facebook profile — which obviously got a lot of likes! 

Based on the information in the IJAC study, for a dog food advertisement to truly compel you to make a purchase it would likely need to:

  • Know you’re its target audience: All those pictures of you and your puppy, posts about your new pooch and any clicking you’ve done around pet ownership made you a prime target for that Purina ad

  • Elicit an emotional response from you: If your pup isn’t eating the “most nutritious food on the market” is your pet care approach hurting their health? 

  • Stimulate your senses: By flashing that adorable puppy you can’t take your eyes off and compelling you to click on a link to the chow

You might be starting to see how easy it is to influence consumer purchasing decisions based on this sample interaction with social media advertising. 

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What is emotional spending?

There are many different emotions that motivate people to spend money — it could be post-pandemic “revenge shopping,” a deeply rooted love of travel and entertainment and much, much more. 

A lot of the reasoning behind making new purchases is wrapped up in your unique money personality. Your money personality is forged by unconscious beliefs and approaches to your finances that stem from your childhood and life experiences, your financial education, or perhaps lack thereof, and even good old-fashioned genetics. 

An “emotional spender” is a particular type of money personality. Emotional spending is about making purchases as a means to up your social status by acquiring material things. It brings a sense of comfort to the consumer and prioritizes instant gratification over financial security in the long run. 

For this reason, advertisements can be particularly appealing to and effective on emotional spenders. When they see something they “have to have,” they’re likely to go for it. This makes them a prime advertising target, because it’s easy to influence their purchasing decisions based on their impulsive spending behavior. 

How to be mindful of spending triggers

If you think you might fall into the emotional spender category from time to time, it can be helpful to know what your spending triggers are. 

A spending trigger is a situation, person, place or emotion that tempts you to spend money. Whether it’s that friend who likes to get fancy, a particular brand you’re powerless to stop buying, or complete and utter boredom, knowing what will prompt you to open up your wallet will help you to be extra aware when you’re targeted by an advertisement. 

Companies basically want us to shop till we drop

At the end of the day, a business’s primary goal is to get you to purchase their product over the competition. When you’re shopping more, they’re earning more. In fact, the advertising economy in the U.S. was worth $239 billion as of 2019, so they’re clearly willing to invest heavily to reach that goal.

While there’s no real way to escape their endless advertising — especially in today’s modern world full of technology and devices — understanding your spending triggers and money personality can put you a step ahead of the game. 

Stay tuned in to the many ways you’re influenced or targeted by advertising, and remember that you’re in control of your finances.

If you’re trying to recover from previous emotional spending and get in control of your finances, consider Tally†. Tally is a credit card debt payoff app that gives you a personalized payoff strategy so you can start paying down debt and working toward your financial goals.


​​†To get the benefits of a Tally line of credit, you must qualify for and accept a Tally line of credit. The APR (which is the same as your interest rate) will be between 7.90% and 29.99% per year and will be based on your credit history. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Annual fees range from $0 - $300.