The Freakonomics Of Advertising

by Jimmy Akin

in Economics

Time prevents me from being able to do a more detailed post on Freakonomics today, so lemme give you a brief one.

One of the things that you can do with economic analyses is figure out which terms in advertisements result in better sales. F’rinstance: Here are five words commonly used in advertising homes for sale that correlate with higher priced sales of the homes:

  • Granite
  • State-of-the-Art
  • Corian
  • Maple
  • Gourmet

How all those get worked into ad for houses, I’m not sure. (I don’t know anybody who has a "gourmet house," though I suppose people might advertise that the home comes with "gourmet kitchen equipment" of some kind.)

You can similar track what advertising elements are correlated with lower sale prices on houses–i.e., things you don’t want in your ad. Here are five such terms:

  • Fantastic
  • Spacious
  • ! (an exclamation point)
  • Charming
  • Great Neighborhood

Why do these correlate negatively? And what do the positive terms have in common? For those answers you can


Freakonomics also contains info on what elements are most (and least) successful in personal ads on Internet dating sites, though if you want to know what they have to say about that subject then you’ll need to


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Rhys June 29, 2005 at 6:53 am

How do you think this personal ad would stand up?
54 yr old “larger” male, unemployed, seeks active and beautiful 18-25 yr old for sex, housework and attending Star Trek conventions. Must speak Klingon.

Mike Campie June 30, 2005 at 12:46 pm
Jimmy, not sure if you are aware, but the Freakonomics book also tries to tell us that abortion helped drop the crime rate. See above site for a debunking of at least this part of Levitt’s book. I have not read this book, but the abortion slant was enough to turn me off to it.

Merideth Carleton November 9, 2005 at 9:17 am

Have you seen this before? It’s a number guessing game: I guessed 04610, and it got it right! Pretty neat.

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