How can you get someone to buy a product? The quick answer is to advertise or market your product, but not all advertisements and marketing campaigns work. Consumers have become inundated with so much information, ads, and calls to action that creating the most effective ad requires a peek into the minds of consumers.
To people who are interested in psychology careers, this sounds a lot like psychology! And it is. Advertising and marketing rely on psychology so much that some companies will hire an advertising psychologist. (This position is sometimes called a “Marketing Psychologist” or “Consumer Psychologist,” but they all generally hold the same position.)
Let’s dive deeper into what an advertising psychologist does from day to day, where they might be hired, and the next steps you can take if this career sounds exciting to you!
What Does an Advertising Psychologist Do?
An advertising psychologist specializes in the inner workings of the mind as it relates to advertising, marketing, and buying decisions. They conduct research, share their findings with clients, and overall elevate our understanding of how advertisements work through different types of media with different types of consumers.
This is a niche field, but it holds many of the same requirements as any other type of psychologist. In order to practice as a psychologist in the United States, you will need to earn a doctoral degree. Psychologists may either earn a Ph.D. in psychology or a PsyD, depending on their program. Not all schools offer advertising psychology programs, so as you are completing your Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, talk to your professors about the research you want to complete and where this research is happening.
Different jobs within advertising psychology, like a market research consultant, may have different job requirements regarding licensure or other training related to the position.
There is not much data on advertising psychologist salaries, as this is a more niche field than clinical psychology or other types of psychology. Salaries vary and will depend on your location, credentials, and how long you have been working at your position. It is very possible to enjoy a comfortable life as an advertising psychologist, especially if you can use your skills to help large companies sell their products.
Advertising Psychologist Reported Salary
Schools for Advertising Psychology Degrees
If you want to go into research or any other career regarding advertising or consumer psychology, it’s time to get educated. Doctoral programs specializing in consumer psychology are available at many Ivy League schools, but they are also available online. Keep these schools on your radar as you make your plan to become an advertising psychologist:
- Pepperdine University (Online)
- Yale University (New Haven, CT)
- New York University (New York, NY)
- University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
- The University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
- Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)
- Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)
- Washington University (St. Louis, MO)
- University of Maryland (College Park, MD)
- Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
Companies That Hire Advertising Psychologists
Advertising psychologists may be needed by research institutions and other organizations that simply have questions about how advertising taps into the mind of the consumer and how certain facets of advertising can make us make certain decisions. But research isn’t the only task that an advertising psychologist can spend their time with each day.
If a brand or organization hires someone that helps them sell their products better and make more money, they will see great value in that person. Advertising psychologists are wanted by any organization that produces advertising or marketing materials, including:
- Government organizations
- Advertising agencies
- Market research firms
- Colleges and universities
Advertising psychologists may also set up their own practice as a consultant for businesses.
Interviews from an Advertising Psychologist
Advertising and consumer psychology are merging with different specialties and technologies. Don’t believe me? Hear it from advertising psychologists themselves! Take a read of an interview with Nisa Bayindir, a consumer psychologist who is blending her traditional training with digital marketing.
You can also watch interviews with advertising psychologists - this hour-long interview with Michael Pham has a lot of information on the field!
Here’s a bonus video to watch - consumer psychologist Tiffany White’s TED Talk on “The [brand] connected consumer”!
Famous Advertising Psychologists
Advertising psychology, although niche, has been around since the 1900s. Walter Dill Scott, one of the first applied psychologists, is known for his focus on advertising. He was one of the first people to recommend that businesses use a “call to action” in their advertisements.
Ernest Dichter is another psychologist to blend marketing expertise and psychology in the 1960s. He is frequently recognized as the “Father of Motivational Research.”
Although John B. Watson is known for his role in behaviorism, he is also known as an advertising psychologist. He was one of the first people to suggest that brands use emotion to sway people to buy their products. You know all of the Super Bowl commercials that warm your heart or make you cry? You can thank John B. Watson for those.
Advertising Psychology Examples
Day to day, an advertising psychologist may have different tasks based on their different projects. You might find them:
- Conducting polls, focus groups, or surveys to gather information about certain consumer groups
- Interviewing consumers on their buying choices
- Testing a hypothesis on whether certain consumers respond well to different advertising strategies
- Giving a presentation to a client about how their advertisements affected buying decisions
- Putting together a strategy for elevated advertising campaigns
- Distributing survey results or studies to clients to educate on advertising psychology