How to Not Be Overlooked When You Advertise (How to Grab Attention)

In the 80s and 90s it may have been enough to explain the benefits of a product in a matter-of-fact tone of voice, along with some close-up shots of your product being utilized by a faceless human. For print ads, a smiling person with your product in hand, next to a paragraph stating its usage, might have been OK. Today, not so much. Tech literate consumers are constantly bombarded with sights, sounds and ideas that are difficult to ignore. It takes more than a basic value proposition to break through. Here are a few tips to help you get noticed.

No Banality, No Mundaneness

Ever wondered why beauty ads often feature models with strange haircuts or unusual makeup? The models that aren't striking because of their unusual style are striking because they're stunningly beautiful (and usually photoshopped).  We're not saying you can't have average people in your ads. We're saying that, if you do, they should be making a statement of some kind.

Take this "Goldberg's" subway ad as an example. Notice the colors, the nostalgic 80s appeal, and the comic awkwardness. Those things are difficult to ignore. We can attest to that, because we surely didn't overlook it in the NYC subway. Some of us even became fans. There are plenty of subway ads we can't remember, though.  

Entertain (But Not Too Much)

Dr. Thales Texeira published some study results to the Harvard Business Review last year. He found, as we'd expect, that entertaining ads are more effective than ads that don't entertain. What he also found was that there is such a thing as "too entertaining." Ads that are overly hilarious, for example, may cause the viewer to overlook the persuasive information as they concentrate on the emotional aspects of the video. In Dr. Texeira's words, "there is a sweet spot between too boring and too entertaining." He notes that this Pepsi commercial is a good example of a "sweet spot" ad.

Be Concise

You only have a few seconds to get the viewer's attention. Then, you only have a few more seconds to get your point across. Today's consumers are busy; not always with important things, but busy. Our attention spans are no more than about 10 seconds, usually. Keep all of your messaging as brief as possible. Try to make your persuasive information blend in with the entertaining or emotionally appealing aspects of your ads as best you can. Don't interrupt the elements that are keeping the viewer's attention.


To the extent that you can, with the budget you have, test different things and evaluate your ROI. Take note of the things that work and the things that don't. Use your best judgment to make your next ads more effective.

isoTree specializes in lead generation and web development. We're here to help you boost your business with the funds you have. Contact us to get help when you need it.

David Kalla