PandaLabs says that it has detected a spam message that uses subliminal advertising techniques. The advertisement, which gives users the opportunity to buy financial stock online, features a sequence of images featuring the word "Buy" displayed extremely rapidly.
Subliminal advertising techniques have been used for a long time and feature a rapid sequence of images that the user’s subconscious perceives, even though he is not aware of it. In the case of this e-mail message, the word Buy appears on screen for a maximum of 40 milliseconds, and in some cases, for only 10 milliseconds.
Although the recipient is not consciously aware of the “Buy” command, the subconscious levels of perception receive it and store it, influencing the recipient.
“This is the first time that PandaLabs has detected an Internet threat that uses a subliminal message,” said Jeremy Matthews, managing director of Panda Software. “Although the author does not use a very refined technique in this case, it is worrying to witness cyber-criminals consistently introducing new strategies to increase the effectiveness of their attacks. We can expect new and more sophisticated threats of this kind to appear soon. Think about the damage that this type of message could cause, especially to young users.”
In many previous cases, subliminal advertising has included images that suggest sexual postures or words related to sex. It has also been used in movies to cause an impact on the audience. In any case, in spite of the controversy surrounding its effectiveness, almost all worldwide legislation bans the use of subliminal techniques in advertisements.