There is a long acadamic style post I found through El Gaffney's Delicious page. While it wasn't my typical light and breezy biz blog reading, I suffered through it and came out richer. Maybe.
I'll try and sum it up as best I can here, if its interesting I suggest you check it out yourself and endure the same 20 minutes of pain that I did.
People's decisions are often truly made by their subconscious while they credit rational conscious reasons. An experiment in Ann Arbor, MI (go blue!) laid 4 of exact the same products and asked people which they like better. Most people picked one, and provided detailed rationale reasons. They were obviously nonsense (same product) but the patterns that emerged were driven by tactics playing to their subconscious (such as how the identical products are laid out on the table).
So if people's choices aren't always rational why are most advertisements focused on delivering rational sales points? And how does this tie to digital advertising?
Rational ideas "fits very well into rational organizations where order, analysis and control are always assumed to be the best ways of getting things done". Its hard to sell through (and stake your reputation on) ad ideas that are more emotional than rational. If it goes wrong you are a very easy target for blame. Blame holds back promotions and loses ad accounts.
Expecting an ad to "sell your product" is probably giving it more credit to advertising than its worth. Advertising should make products sellable. There's a difference. Friends recommendations, trusted editorial, specifications, details, salespeople, what you serve a customer after he searches for your product on Google, those things sell product, . I think most of your ads should create enough curiousity and positive feelings to setup those communications.
I think people's natural muting of advertising in their lives are due to many ads over-reaching their natural capabilities. Advertising needs to entertain and be enjoyable in its own right. Who wants to watch a sales pitch, but I can watch this all day.
New technologies can make advertising more than entertaining but functional and useful. As a Nascar fan, this was very helpful.
Now I don't think ALL advertisements need to cater to our subconscious. As I've always advocated, some ads plant seeds (subconscious) some harvest crops (very rationale, very conscious). A good marketer uses both.