How to create better pet adoption ads

How can adoption agencies convince people to adopt pets in need of a home?

I examined the problem of pet adoption using ads from the Petfinder online database in a paper that was published on December 26. The paper quantified language patterns in nearly 680,000 pet ads that were adopted or unadopted.

Concrete and analytical style

The use of prepositions and articles like “above” or “on” indicates concrete and analytical thinking.

One highly analytical ad for a dog that was adopted said, “Meet Christina!” Breed: Bull Terrier mix, estimated DOB: 8/21/18. Sex: female, weight: 6-8 lbs. Health: up-to-date vaccinations and preventatives. Rescued from: South Carolina.”

Pronouns, and storytelling words like “he,” “they,” or “extremely” indicate a narrative style.

One example of an ad that used many story words was “Look at the cuteness!” This boy is so adorable; he’s full of love and super playful. This boy is a big fan of toys, so make sure to have lots around. Jack and his brothers have a unique feature as well. They are polydactyl on their front paws.”

Each ad was given a score between 0 and 100. High scores indicate that the style of an ad is more analytical and less like a narrative.

Successful ads were more likely than unsuccessful ads to have a concrete, analytical style.

It is not only in the adoption of animals that such verbal patterns have a powerful impact. In a study of ads for the HPV vaccine, parents and doctors rated factual messages as more persuasive.

The peer-to-peer loan research indicates that online ads written analytically and concretely are more likely for people to be successful.

Photos and facts

The use of words like “friend,” “buddy” and “helper” in the advertisement is another important indicator.

The data on pets revealed that certain social words could be a red flag for potential owners. The majority of adopters are concerned about whether the pet is healthy and has been vaccinated and want to know more about the adoption process.

Humanizing details, such as describing the pet as a “sweetheart” or that it will be your “lifelong companion,” could indicate the agency is concealing vital health information about the pet.

According to the study, people are less likely than others to give money if they use a lot of social words or humanizing details in their ads.

Adoption ads are not just about words. Ads from adopted pets featured more photos on average than ads for unadopted animals. Pictures can help owners who are introduced to pets online to feel more confident.

Adoption: Changing the way people think about it

Some evidence suggests that the way people speak can influence how they feel and think about adoption.

In an experiment, I had Amazon Mechanical Turk readers read ads associated with either adopted pets (analytical writing style, with few social terms) or unadopted animals (less analytical writing style, with more social phrases).

The analytic ad was more social and had a lower social component. Its readers were more likely than the social and analytical analytical ads to adopt the animal and visit the shelter.

This may seem like a small effect, but it can have a big impact on millions of animals who need a place to live.

The writing style is important for the adoption of pets. Ad agencies can improve the chances of pet adoption by being thoughtful in how they communicate their ads.

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