Subliminal ads coming to a PC near you?

Students were exposed to either Apple or IBM's logo for 30 milliseconds

Conventional advertising techniques work for some companies but, for many others, getting their products in front of the right customers is tough. To this end, Duke University has conducted a study to find out what form of advertising works best.

Researchers asked students to watch a screen and chart the appearance of a multicoloured box in different places on the display, keeping a running tally of numbers appearing in the centre of the screen. During that time, the students were exposed to either Apple of IBM's logo for 30 milliseconds.

Lay some bricks

Upon completing the test, the students were asked to think of all the possible ways in which they could use a brick. The researchers found that those who viewed the Apple logo were more creative with the brick than those exposed to the IBM logo.

They claim that the results of the test suggest a person's perception of a company can be used to an advertiser's advantage if subliminal advertising is employed.

"Instead of spending the majority of their money on traditional print and television advertising, companies with established brand associations such as Apple may want to give serious consideration to shifting more marketing resources to product placement opportunities and other forms of outreach that emphasize brief brand exposures," said Gavan Fitzsimons, a professor at Duke.

To download a Quicktime video demonstration of the test, click here.

A total of 341 students were studied. They were told they were taking a "visual acuity test".