• Peter Hammer

Factors contributing to advertising effectiveness

Much of our work is grounded in academic theory.  The following text is taken from my Masters thesis Exploring the impact of clutter on advertising effectiveness across broadcast media which I completed at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science at the University of South Australia.

This post explores factors that could potentially impact on advertising effectiveness.  Such potential impacts are important to understand when preparing empirical work.  You can find other extracts from this document on Key Measures of Advertising Effectiveness and Avoidance Behaviour.

Length of Advertisement/Duration of Exposure 

A number of studies have addressed the impact of length on the effectiveness of advertising in broadcast media.  Mord and Gilson (1985) looked at the impact of shorter (15-second) commercials.  The study identified that 15-second commercials were less effective than 30-second commercials in terms of their recall, persuasion and overall likeability.  The study also found that increasing the number of 15-second commercials in a pod, increased the effectiveness of the remaining 30-second commercials (Mord and Gilson 1985). 


Patzer (1991) also addressed differences in the effectiveness of 15-second and 30-second TV commercials.  The shorter (15-second) commercials were roughly 80% as effective as the longer commercials in terms of brand attitude and recall.  Similarly, Pieters and Bijmolt (1997) found that the duration of a commercial had a sizable impact on consumer memories.  However, research by Singh and Cole (1993) did not support these earlier claims.  While length was found to have an impact on brand name recall, it did not impact significantly on claimed recall or attitudinal response (in isolation). 


In some more recent research, Danaher (2003) observed that web advertisement effectiveness was increased when consumers were exposed to the (same) advertisement for a longer period.  This research makes reference to studies conducted in television (including Krugman, Cameron et al. 1995; Swallen 2000), where increased advertising exposure lead to increased memories of advertising content.  Other research has suggested that increased exposure might lead to increased wearout, and therefore reduce effectiveness (du Plessis 1994). 

Advertising Repetition  

Advertising repetition can be both beneficial and detrimental to advertising effectiveness.  A number of studies have looked at advertising repetition or frequency (including Bogart 1995; Jones 1997; Roberts 1999).  It is been generally accepted that as frequency increases (to a point), that the chance of recall also increases.  It has also been shown, however, that excessive repetition is detrimental, as it leads to advertising wearout.  For example in some work by Henderson Blair and Rabuck (1998) it was concluded that wear-out followed a predictable path determined by its increased presence (measured by Gross Rating Points) and also the advertisement’s persuasiveness.  However, conflicting results were presented by Scott and Solomon (1998), who found no identifiable patterns in wear-out. 

Brand Usage  

Advertising memories also seem to be contingent upon the degree of consumer familiarity with the brand (i.e. brand usage).  In some early fundamental research, Bird, Channon and Ehrenberg (1970) observed that the proportion of consumers who expressed favourable attitudes towards a brand was generally higher among current users, and then former users, with the lowest level of expression among those who had never used the brand.  Research conducted by Rice and Bennett (1998) suggested that, in general, users were more likely than non-users to see and like advertising. 

Sharp, Beal and Romaniuk (2001; 2002) found that brand users were about twice as likely to recall advertising for that brand than non-users in two separate studies (n.b. conducted in banking and insurance categories, and then in the travel market).  Such findings were recently replicated using a range of other memory measures for brands in the durable and FMCG markets, finding that advertising memories (recall and recognition) were highest amongst users (Hammer and Riebe 2006).  It has also been shown that the purchase of a brand exerts interference on subsequent advertising, affecting variables such as the perception of new brand associations, ad credibility, ad attitude, and ad-related brand recall (Dahlén and Rosengren 2005).  

Demographic Characteristics of Respondents 

Demographic characteristics of respondents have been shown to influence advertising memories, thus impacting upon effectiveness.  In a review of the literature, Dubow (1995) identified that young adults (aged 18 to 34) remembered advertising better than older adults (aged 35 years and over).  Similarly, two studies addressing advertising clutter (Pillai 1990; Johnson and Cobb-Walgren 1994) also noted that recall decreased as age increased, and that recall decreases were more severe in high-clutter environments. 


It has also been suggested that advertising avoidance might be influenced by demographic characteristics.  A number of studies have shown that the profiles of viewers who were more likely to switch channels tended to be male, younger, and more affluent (Heeter and Greenberg 1985; Zufryden, Pedrick et al. 1993; Danaher 1995; Krugman, Cameron et al. 1995).  There is also research that has shown that switching behaviour increased with household size (Abernethy 1990; Zufryden, Pedrick et al. 1993), yet other studies have not (Heeter and Greenberg 1985).  It has also been found that advertising avoidance is more common for viewers with higher incomes, and Clancy (1994) found that education, household size and employment encouraged ‘eyes-off-screen’.   


Such behaviours have also been investigated in other media.  For example, Heeter and Cohen (1985) showed that younger and less affluent listeners are more likely to switch during radio commercials, that men switch more than women when listening at home, but not when listening in a car.  

Program Involvement 

Studies of program involvement have also shown to impact on effectiveness.  In research by Lloyd and Clancy (1991) and Rock and Chard (2002), it was found that higher program involvement lead to higher attention being given to the advertising, and thus, higher recall.   Advertising recall was said to increase by 10% for every level of involvement, and the ‘must watch’ (most attentive) viewers were 48% more likely to stay in the room during the commercial breaks. 

Clancy and Kweskin (1971) showed that the when consumers held more favourable opinions toward a television program, the more likely they were to remember commercials placed in that program.  Similarly, Coulter (1998) found that thoughts about the program and overall program evaluations were found to have a mediating effect on program-induced affect on the advertising.  That is, program likeability was found to lead to likeability towards the commercial.


Further Reading :

Abernethy, A. M. (1990). "Television Exposure: Programs vs Advertising." Current Issues and Research in Advertising 13(1): 61-77. 


Bird, M., C. Channon, et al. (1970). "Brand Image and Brand Usage." Journal of Marketing Research 7(August): 307-314.


Bogart, L. (1995). "Is There an Optimum Frequency in Advertising?" Admap(February): 32-34.

Clancey, M. (1994). "The Television Audience Examined." Journal of Advertising Research 34: 77 - 87. 


Clancy, K. J. and D. M. Kweskin (1971). "TV commercial recall correlates." Journal of Advertising Research 11(2): 18-20. 


Dahlén, M. and S. Rosengren (2005). "Brands affect slogans affect brands? Competitive interference, brand equity and the brand-slogan link." Brand Management 12(3): 151-164. 


Danaher, P. and G. Mullarkey (2003). "Factors Affecting Online Advertising Recall: A Study of Students." Journal of Advertising Research. 


Danaher, P. J. (1995). "What happens to television ratings during commercial breaks?" Journal of Advertising Research 35(1). 


du Plessis, E. (1994). "Likeable Ads Work Best, But What is "Likeability"?" Admap(May): 10-13. 


du Plessis, E. (1994). "Recognition Versus Recall." Journal of Advertising Research 34(3, May/June): 7591. 


du Plessis, E. (1994). "Understanding and Using Likeability." Journal of Advertising Research (September/October). 


du Plessis, E. (1994). Understanding and Using Likeability. ARF/ESOMAR, South Africa.


Dubow, J. S. (1995). "Advertising recognition and recall by age - including teens." Journal of Advertising Research 35(5): 55-60. 


Hammer, P. and E. Riebe (2006). Broadening the empirical generalisation: the impact of brand usage on memories of advertising. Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy Conference, Brisbane, Queensland.


Heeter, C. and B. S. Greenberg (1985). "Profiling the Zappers." Journal of Advertising Research 25(2): 15-19. 


Heeter, C. and B. S. Greenberg (1985). "Profiling the Zappers." Journal of Advertising Research 25(2): 15-19. 


Henderson Blair, M. and M. J. Rabuck (1998). "Advertising Wearin and Wearout: Ten Years Later—More Empirical Evidence and Successful Practice." Journal of Advertising Research 38(5, SeptemberOctober): 7-.


Johnson, R. L. and C. J. Cobb-Walgren (1994). "Aging and the Problem of Television Clutter." Journal of Advertising Research 34(3): 54-62. 


Jones, J. P. (1997). "What Does Effective Frequency Mean in 1997?" Journal of Advertising Research (July-August): 14-20.


Krugman, D. M., G. T. Cameron, et al. (1995). "Visual Attention to Programming and Commercials: The Use of In-Home Observations." Journal of Advertising 24(1): 1-12.


Mord, M. S. and E. Gilson (1985). "Shorter Units: Risk-Responsibility-Reward."  25(4): 9-19. 


Patzer, G. I. (1991). "Multiple dimensions of performance for thirty second and fifteen second commercials." Journal of Advertising Research 31: 18 - 25.


Pieters and Bijmolt (1997). "Consumer memory for television advertising: a field study of duration, serial position, and competition effects." Journal of Consumer Research 23: 362 - 372.


Pillai, S. (1990). "Impact of clutter on advertising viewership and recall: An Indian experiment." Journal of the Market Research Society 32(2): 187-196. 


Rice, B. and R. Bennett (1998). "The Relationship Between Brand Usage and Advertising Tracking Measurements:  International Findings." Journal of Advertising Research(May-June): 58-66.


Roberts, A. (1999). "Recency, Frequency and the Sales Effects of TV Advertising." Admap(February): 4044.


Rock, B. and R. Chard (2002). "Who's Watching My Ads?" ESMOAR June.


Scott, D. and D. Solomon (1998). "Advertising Wearout: What is Wearout Anyway?" Journal of Advertising Research 38(5). 


Scott, D. R. and D. Solomon (1998). "What is Wearout Anyway?" Journal of Advertising Research 38(5). 


Sharp, B., V. Beal, et al. (2001). First steps towards a marketing empirical generalisation: brand usage and subsequent advertising recall. Australia & New Zealand Academy of Marketing conference 2001, Albany, New Zealand, Massey University. 


Sharp, B., V. Beal, et al. (2002). Quantifying an Empirical Generalisation: Usage and Advertising Recall in the International Travel Market. ANZMAC, Melbourne.


Singh, S. N. and C. A. Cole (1993). "The Effects of Length, Content and Repetition on Television Commercial Effectiveness." Journal of Marketing Research 30(February): 91-104. 


Swallen, J. (2000). "Time is on our side: viewing duration and ad effectiveness." Admap November 2000. 


Zufryden, F., J. H. Pedrick, et al. (1993). "Zapping and its impact on brand purchase behaviour." Journal of Advertising Research Jan/Feb. 

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