Advertising Anthropology: Getting in touch with the inner caveman of the visual web

Posted by Kyla Brennan on February 18th, 2014 at 3:30 pm

It’s no secret that by nature, humans are simple creatures who rely on basic forms of communication to convey ideas, initiatives, and feelings. Our innate attraction to simplicity stems from our roots as prehistoric, subterranean dwelling cavemen, who created cave paintings to tell stories and share ideas. While these prehistoric people served as an unyielding factor in human communication, we have seen modern innovators of all kinds trail-blaze across the technological landscape of their time to bolster instruments that would advance the face of communication within our society.

Fast-forward to the year 2014, and we have morphed into a sophisticated, intellectual, and opinionated society. With that said, our overt magnetism to “cut and dry” communication remains etched in the stone of our prehistoric ancestry. In the web of tech advancements and human simplicity, the rise of photo focused social media advertising clearly illustrates the fact that pictures remain an effective fixture in human communication. Through our anthropological annotations we strive to answer the following: exactly how has image communication evolved and how have major social media platforms managed to artfully tap into our inner caveman through advertising?

Pinterest and Facebook are two major social media leaders that have managed to effortlessly integrate photo advertising into their respective social networks, while engaging users with rich content that is a far cry from any cave painting documented in history.

Separating Instagram from Facebook, the photo platform is rapidly preparing itself for advertisements that will seamlessly blend with the sepia-saturated attributes that we’ve all become loyally addicted to. While these social media platforms contain text content, ranging from captions, image descriptors, hashtags and real-time status updates; image-focused product presentations are the method of advertising that have stood the test of time and popularity with users and platforms.

Verbal and text communication as the end-all, be-all of advertising, is losing steam in the tech world, as the ideology of the product standing alone and in the limelight comes to the forefront of advertising initiatives. This method of harvesting consumer interest and reaping steadfast engagement is undoubtedly successful because of one plain truth: the caveman ideology.

When it comes to efficient and results-based advertising in our mobile-first world, there is little demand for colorful language, swelling descriptors or lengthy demonstrations. Pinterest’s promoted pins, for example, cut to the chase by providing the user with rapid-fire images partnered with hyper-concise descriptions that might include a price or brand name. Leading with the product is a highly palpable advertising approach that is not only progressively engaging, but it’s simply more honest than slick advertising copy than we are so used to flipping over.

Going further, 69% of Pinterest visitors have found an item they’ve purchased or wanted to purchase on the platform and 43% of people prefer Pinterest’s image-focused network to associate with retailers and brands.

With numbers like these its really quite simple; the caveman sees, wants, and takes. The modern man scrolls, clicks, and purchases.

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