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6 Cognitive Biases You Can Use For PPC Campaigns

6 Cognitive Biases You Can Use For PPC Campaigns

As humans, we like to think that we are in control of all the decisions we make. They are all well thought of, heavily researched or without any outside influences. But behavioural economics says that’s not really true and we have almost always been influenced by factors outside our control and given into certain biases to make decisions, at least when it comes to buying products or services. Cognitive bias is the tendency of consumers to think in a certain way that is often a deviation from rational and logical decision making. Customers tend to create their own subjective perceptions towards certain inputs. It is often studied in behavioural economics to assess the impact of certain messages towards buyer behaviour. Understanding these cognitive biases will help you understand your customers better and help improve your search engine marketing efforts. Here are some cognitive biases which will help your PPC campaigns perform better.

Bandwagon Effect

Simply stated, the consumers preference towards a product/service would increase, as the number of people using it increases. The consumers tend to want things that other people have. As an advertiser, use your PPC campaign to convey that the consumer is not the only one making the decision. He could also convey how many people have used that product/service or the number of recommendations received for the product/service.

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Scarcity Heuristics

Consumers tend to place more importance or value to a product/service if it can be easily lost, especially to other consumers. So when the PPC campaign leads the consumer to a page where he sees that there are limited products of his desired product/service available he is more likely to take a quick decision and convert.

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When a consumer sees a product/service which has a very limited stock left or an offer which has only a limited time left to avail, he will start thinking irrationally and make a decision quickly.

An advertiser could convey scarcity in his PPC campaign by communicating scarcity and time sensitivity in the ad copy itself or on the landing page. He could also convey urgency by using words like “Hurry” or “ends soon” in his ad copy to make the consumer take a faster decision.


This bias states that the consumer tends to focus on an “Anchor”, which is most often the first piece of information available when making decisions. Each subsequent piece of information is considered in relation to the first piece of information. The most common way of using anchoring is by conveying discounted prices. You could say that traditionally this product/service costs Rs. 1000 but for now it is Rs. 600. The consumer would be much more inclined to buying the product/service with this piece of information. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you fake the prices and convey your regular price as discounted price. If the price of your product is lower than that of the competitors then make sure your search engine marketing efforts conveys that piece of information to the consumer. If there are some deals on the product/service then make sure you convey the original price as well as the discounted in the ad copy. The original price will create an anchor in the mind of the consumer and the discounted price will seem like a good deal to the consumer.

Zero Price Effect

Zero price effect is a theory which states that when a product/service is priced at zero, the consumers decision making will become irrational and perceive it to be of superior value. The demand for the product/service skyrockets when it is free. So, if the company is providing something for free with their product/service, one should make sure that the same is conveyed in their PPC campaign and ad copies. This will result in a better performance of the ad. For example, if the company allows free shipping, then it would be beneficial to mention the same in the ad copy as the consumer would see that as value addition and go ahead and click on the ad.

Paradox of choice

Providing way too many choices to the consumer might be one of the reasons for having fewer conversions. When overwhelmed with choice consumers tend to become anxious and often send up not taking a decision. Your PPC campaign should ensure that the landing page is providing the consumer with exactly what he is looking for and with fewer choices. Having your ads lead the consumer to a product page instead of category page would result in a much better chance of conversion.

Framing Effect

The framing effect is an example of cognitive bias, in which people react to a particular choice in different ways depending on how it is presented. Framing a piece of information slightly different may evoke a different emotional response and may lead to different decisions. So, it is not what you say, its how you say it. In our PPC campaign, present the information in a positive format to make a positive impact on the consumer. Saying an ice cream is 80% fat-free is better than saying that it contains 20% fat. Portraying a piece of information in a positive manner in your ad copy will tend to help the consumer see your product or service in a more positive way and help improve your results.

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