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Emotive Advertising

Emotive Advertising

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Published by: irenek on Jan 10, 2008
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Measuring the hidden power ofemotive advertising
Robert Heath
Bath School of Management 
Pam Hyder
Marketing Consultant 
Winner: 2004 David Winton Award for Best Technical PaperWinner: 2004 ISBA Award for Best Paper on Advertising Research
This paper is about advertising that works on our emotions without necessarilyachieving high levels of attention or recall. We compare the most popular recall-based metric – claimed ad awareness – against an approach that deduceseffectiveness from recognition, and find claimed ad awareness seriouslyunderestimates the effectiveness of the advertising tested.
Introduction
In 1961, in response to Vance Packard’s famous polemic
The HiddenPersuaders
, Rosser Reeves (1961) declared: ‘There are no hidden persuaders.Advertising works openly, in the bare and pitiless sunlight.’ Doubtlessthere are some who believe that this is still the case, and that the wayadvertising works is totally transparent. But we know a lot more abouthow our minds and our brains work than we did 40 years ago, and whatwe have learned confirms that advertising, indeed communication ingeneral, is a far more complex process than we used to think it was.What complicates everything is not claims or brands or products, butemotions — specifically, our emotions as consumers. When Rosser Reevesmade his pronouncement it was believed that emotions were aconsequence of our thoughts, and that if we understood what we werethinking then we understood everything. But pioneers in psychology likeRobert Zajonc and Robert Bornstein shattered this illusion in the 1980s.They showed that feelings and emotions have primacy over thoughts, andthat emotional responses can be created even when we have no awareness
International Journal of Market Research Vol. 47 Issue 5
© 2005 The Market Research Society
467
 
of the stimulus that causes them. More recently, Antonio Damasio (1994)has proved that our emotions are critical to decision-making; and inanother area of psychology, work by Daniel Schacter and others hasdemonstrated that learning can take place even when we pay no attentionwhatsoever, and that this learning can interact with our emotional memorystores (Schacter 1996).All this points to advertising having far more power than we think ithas. In general we do not think it affects us very much, if at all. A poll of American consumers conducted by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young in 2003found 82% of US consumers did not believe that advertising influencedtheir decision to buy a car, which CGE&Y used as evidence that carmanufacturers are wasting money on ads (
Financial Times
2003).However, 13 years of IPA Advertising Effectiveness Awards have provedbeyond doubt that advertising affects us, whether we believe it or not. Sohow is it that consultancies like CGE&Y can make such a patently naïveclaim, suggesting that what consumers
believe
represents the sum of truthabout how advertising works?We think the explanation arises from the way in which advertising isevaluated. Although our knowledge of how advertising works has changedconsiderably, the measures we generally use to measure it have not. We stillrely on survey data that ask people their opinions of advertising. We stilluse questions that invite people to recall things they have no reason at allto remember. And in many cases we evaluate success using metrics whoseorigins can be tracked back to the early part of the 20th century.We believe it is time to initiate an investigation into the current approachto advertising evaluation. We focus in this paper on recall measures, andwithin these we investigate in detail one of the most commonly usedmetrics: claimed ad awareness. We test this against a different approach tomeasuring the emotional influence of advertising, and unearth someinteresting discrepancies. We would like to stress that neither of us has anyconnection with any company in the research industry, and we present thispaper as research buyers not research sellers. We hope you will agree thatour investigation has produced some important conclusions.
A brief history of advertising measurement
The remark, attributed in the UK to Lord Leverhulme, that ‘50% of myadvertising is wasted, but I don’t know which 50%’ is well known. Lesswell known is an observation by Niall Fitzgerald (1998), current chairmanof Unilever, who said in an interview in 1998, ‘If someone asked me, rather
Measuring the hidden power of emotive advertising
468
 
than one of my distinguished predecessors, which half of my advertisingwas wasted I would probably say 90% is wasted but I don’t know which90%.’ Given the skills and technology we now have at our fingertips, it isnothing short of astonishing that the chairman of a major world advertiseris less sure nowadays of the power of advertising than half a century ago.Partly this situation arises because of the complexity of advertising. BillBernbach’s famous statement in 1980 that ‘Advertising is fundamentallypersuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art’ gives aclue to the myriad alternative opinions that can be ventured about themerit of even the simplest and smallest piece of marketing communication.And alternative opinions equate to harder decisions and longer decisiontimes. Little wonder that discussions about how well or poorly a campaignhas performed start almost as soon as the first ad appears, because if anadvertising campaign is found
not 
to be working then it may be monthsbefore it can be adjusted, and years before a replacement is available.So how can it be discovered at this early stage if an advertising campaignis working? In the IPA Awards, advertising effectiveness is generallydeemed to have been
 proved 
only when shifts in attitudes or increments insales or margin can be linked directly to advertising activity (Broadbent2000). But we all know that sales are subject to many influences otherthan advertising and can take a long time to respond; likewise we havebecome used to image metrics showing few if any shifts in the short term.As Gordon Brown observed, ‘reality rarely co-operates’ and ‘the majorityof advertisers have to be content with determining the probableeffectiveness’ (Brown 1986).Generally the advertising industry has favoured fairly simple hierarchi-cal models, so ‘probable effectiveness’ can be determined by collectingdata relating to one of the intermediate stages of whichever model youhave based your advertising on. Thus, in the case of the earliest model,AIDA (Attention
Interest
Decision
Action), the probableeffectiveness of advertising could have been determined by measuring theattention or interest in the ad, were they themselves not almost impossibleto measure.As it turned out, the first practical intermediate measures were devisedin the 1920s by‘two young and entrepreneurial college professors fromthe Midwest’(Feldwick 2002)called Daniel Starch and George Gallup.Starch’s model, ‘Noticed
Read
Understood
Desired
Action’(Starch 1923), makes nothing like as catchy an acronym as AIDA, but itallowed the probable effectiveness to be assessed by the level of ‘noticingand reading’ [
sic
] that took place. This led him to devise the Starch Test, a
International Journal of Market Research Vol. 47 Issue 5
469

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