Content Analysis as a Predictive Methodology: Recall, Readership and Evaluations of Business-to-Business Print Advertising
John Narrarato and Kimberley A Neuendorf Journal of Advertising Research Vol. 37, No. 2, March/April 1997



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Content Analysis as a Predictive Methodology: Recall, Readership and Evaluations of Business-to-Business Print Advertising John Narrarato and Kimberley A Neuendorf Journal of Advertising Research Vol. 37, No. 2, March/April 1997

Content Analysis as a Predictive Methodology: Recall, Readership, and Evaluations of Business-to-Business Print Advertising
John L. Naccarato Liggett-Stashower, Inc., USA and Kimberly A. Neuendorf Cleveland State University, USA This article calls for the application of content analytic techniques to advertising as a method of predicting advertising effectiveness. A comprehensive empirical investigation examines the effect of both form variables (e.g., headline size, use of color, illustration placement) and content variables (e.g., subject matter, use of humor, use of fear appeals) on recall, readership, and evaluations in the context of business-to-business print advertising. The prediction of four different outcome variables is successful, with total variance accounted for ranging from 12 percent to 59 percent. Significant predictors vary substantially across the dependent indicators, indicating that different advertisement characteristics are likely to be needed to achieve various advertiser goals. The ultimate goal of advertising is sales. As the dean of advertising David Ogilvy notes: 'I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information. When I write an advertisement, I don't want you to tell me that you find it "creative". I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product' (Ogilvy, 1983). ADVERTISING SUCCESS The direct linking of sales to advertising exposure is rarely validated in practice. Even the older, classic models of advertising and marketing (e.g., 'DAGMAR') have acknowledged the role of intermediary processes and states (Olshavksky, 1994), including but not limited to knowledge, [positive] affect, and behavioral intention (cf., Ajzen and Fishbein, 1980). Correspondingly, and for reasons of practicality and comparability of criteria, advertising readership studies are viewed as the basic tool for assessing advertising effectiveness. Readership is probably the most frequently used indicator of advertising effectiveness. Unlike inquiry reports-which count how many readers request additional information and are a mainstay of business-to-business advertising-readership studies ask a
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g. and other goals of advertising is understudied. A careful examination of advertising content may shed light on the 'sales story'. Advertisement characteristics and advertising success The question of which advertisement characteristics lead to greater recall. 1994). Additionally. positive affect toward a spokesperson in the advertisement) on non-representative samples. readership. Another. quantitative analysis of message characteristics.g. 1986). color.g. Wood. since creative judges are primarily the advertisers' professional peers and not representative of the ranks of the message targets. and Harvey). complementary studies are needed to provide practicality of prediction and generalization. and Zinkhan. 1989). Against the advice of Ogilvy and others. Images. and Allison. if they read it. While it may seem manifestly beneficial to designers of advertising to know what gets the reader's attention. some industry observers have noted the paucity of syndicated readership research for industrial or business-to-business advertising (Morelli.. 1982. 1992). 1992. Tellis. Fox. 1992. objective 2. The average single-source study fails to establish audience exposure to an advertisement and does not even consider advertisement characteristics. focusing on providing a linking mechanism between the production of an advertisement and its positive reception by consumers. The Downloaded from warc. Other. Laskey. Hong. readership studies have come under certain criticisms in the past two decades (Edmonston. agencies often rely on creative competitions to index the content and persuasive potential of their advertisements.  representative sample of respondents whether or not they saw the advertisement. Schaefer. plus a host of publisher-sponsored readership services seeking to provide advertisers with information about advertising placement. 1985).. Readership studies have been conducted on a continuing basis for print media since the 1920s (Hendon. type of research has been the emergent single-source study. 1987. Whipple and McManamon. 1973). The research exemplar reported here attempts to develop a practical schema applicable to a range of advertisement types. Roman and Maas. 1994. 1986). 1994). The typical experimental investigation deals with one variable in isolation from others and tests fairly abstract outcomes (e. but results of these competitions may bear little relationship to the success of the advertisement. Rothschild.. the use of an appeal such -is humor. 1995. There are a number of independent organizations conducting readership studies (e. Ad-Q. Nevertheless. This research frequently takes the form of an experiment or field experiment (Gelb. Starch.. 1994. Every word in the copy must count' (Ogilvy. Johnson. Research studies that probe naturally occurring variations in message characteristics include those that content analyze. readership studies have traditionally been considered to be a valid measure of whether or not the advertiser's message has reached the receivers. Ad-Chart. Schultz. and Crask. Tannenbaum. 1996). the bulk of such research has been left in the hands of academics (e. 1994. which links a household's potential advertising exposure to actual household buying behavior ( 3     . Content analysis as a descriptive and predictive tool Content analysis may be defined as the systematic. and layout factors are also of great concern in the industry (Roman and Maas. Sekely and Blakney.. Tellis. 1989. or the presence of visual imagery or music. 1983. Sometimes referred to as recognition or recall studies1. However. and perhaps how much of the advertisement they remember seeing. What makes a consumer read a given advertisement? An early Ogilvy pronouncement declared that 'Every advertisement must tell the whole sales story . manipulating such variables as source credibility. the 'conventional wisdom' concerning successful advertisement creation is a powerful and often highly valid force (Ogilvy. The chosen exemplar examines business-to-business advertising in a trade magazine.

those that are linked to the formal features of the medium and cannot endure transfer to another media modality. opting instead to look at just one or a handful of variable(s)'. characteristics of headlines. 1980. 1980). sometimes it doesn't' (Gelb and Pickett. 1974).059 spots. 4     . Most of the variables employed by these researchers are inapplicable to print advertisements. mnemonic devices.5 Those studies that have made the attempt at comprehensiveness warrant mention.. omnipresent music. 1952.g. the use of humor. Stewart and Furse (1986) developed a 151item content-analysis scheme. Only one major attempt has been made at identifying a comprehensive set of print advertisement characteristics that contribute to readership. Most prior examinations of advertising content have analyzed the compositional form variables of print advertisements.600 print advertisements covering a five-year span of McGraw-Hill's Ad Sell Performance Downloaded from warc. For example. brand sign-offs). 'creativity'. Twedt. the more mechanical form variables prove to be much more important predictors of readership and recall (e.. 1980). and the conclusions presented are also quite ambiguous (Aaker and Norris. and journalism scholars some 50 years ago (Berelson. 1984. and the use of a strong front-end impact. 1988. Rotfeld. which they related to measures of recall.g.g. message complexity) have been analyzed. There has been a recognition of the difference between form variables. sex appeals). and copy. VandenBergh and Reid.. and persuasiveness for 1. The most comprehensive projects to date are studies of television commercials. Holman and Hecker. 1983). Madden and Weinberger. Holbrook and Lehmann. attempting to develop formulas for successful print advertisements4. and content or substance variables. puffery. Krippendorff. 1983). predicting over 30 percent of the variance in Starch readership scores for Newsweck and Sports illustrated. A major contribution of this study was its clear finding that both form and content factors are important in producing recall and readership. During the late 1970s and early 1980s. sociology. 1983.g. vice-president of research at McGraw-Hill Publications. the content/style variables that have been most often studied in the realm of consumer advertising do not generally apply to industrial or business-to-business advertisements (e. 1985. graphics. Chamblee et al. or children. analyzed nearly 3. When form and content variables are directly compared.g. celebrity endorsement. comprehension. Kofron. e.  technique was initiated by communication. 1993. front-end impact. Markiewicz. Holbrook and Lehmann.. those that may exist independent of the medium3 (Berelson. humor.. While there is near-consensus that use of color and large advertisement size are positive contributors to readership (Hanssens and Weitz. 1980. Most extant content-analytic studies have neglected a comprehensive coverage of potential important predictive variables. the typical study on the use of humor in advertising concludes that 'sometimes it works. They found a unique set of characteristics common to the award-winning spots: the use of male characters and few minorities. fear. Standen. Various content variables such as the subject of the advertisement or the approach to the subject (e. use of humor. a branddifferentiated message.g. Weber. 1990). 1980. Gagnard and Morris (1988) content analyzed 121 CLIO award-winning commercials with an adaptation of the Stewart and Furse scheme. 1967. Marney.. Huston and Wright. the evidence about other form variables is decidedly mixed (Assael. 1952) and has gained validation as a research tool in thousands of studies examining messages ranging from television beer commercials to news items on the Greenhouse Effect to published Republican and Democratic Party platforms (Fan. and (b) attention and memory factors (e. Reid. and Burgi. 1989. 1984). Holbrook and Lehmann (1980) tapped 48 message and mechanical variables. 1952. for example.. David P. Forsyth. Their most important predictors included product class and the vague construct. convenience of product use). celebrity endorser. 1982. and Barnes. animals. They found both recall and persuasion to be influenced by (a) brand performance characteristics (e.

Neuendorf. and. there is a long gap in the literature after the mid 1980s. recall. Riffe and Freitag. the McGraw-Hill project was limited to mechanical form variables. 1998. His research found 'significant' contributors to the advertisement being noticed included use of color and use of a spread or bleed format. what is important to the success of an advertisement in a general interest magazine may not be the same as the set of elements that lead to success in business-to-business advertising).g. Indeed. Other possible reasons include a failure to identify critical variables in a comprehensive fashion and context specificity (e. 1997. For logistic reasons.6 Flawed methodology is one potential reason for the wide variation in findings across content analyses for both content and form variables. this study has examined business-to-business advertisements in one particular publication. But. The study described here follows that model by linking content analysis to readership studies. The study described here has been conducted with care given to content-analytic standards. Contributors to 'creating awareness'. 1994). and showing the product by itself. This study updates and continues the quest. 1982. We have gone for depth over breadth. and 'building preference' were long copy (>300 words).com 5     . The sample size was adequate to support a large number of predictor variables. and perceptions of the advertisement (when limited to one particular type of message pool and receiver type)? 2. Sampling was systematic random. 'arousing interest'. Neuendorf (1998) proposes the integrative model of content analysis. wherein message-centered variables tapped by content analysis are linked with audience-centered variables or source-centered variables measured in additional data collections. Variables not achieving an acceptable level of reliability were dropped from final analyses. Zollars. To what extent may form and content attributes of print advertisements predict critical outcome variables such as readership. as indicated in the above review. 1980. unfortunately. 1989). This leaves hollow the claims of 'significant' findings. The readership studies reported small sample sizes. Are significant predictors different across the outcome variables? METHODOLOGY The publication and PARR reports The focus of this study is on both form and content variables as applied in industrial or business-to-business trade publication Downloaded from warc. and in order to eliminate confounding factors and 'masking' effects of uncontrolled context variables. 1952) and continued intermittently throughout the 1970s and 1980s.. use of tables or charts. available reports on the project fail to supply sufficient detail to evaluate the content-analysis methodology. Riffe and Freitag. This research is guided by a pair of general research questions: 1.  Studies (reported in Donath. Coder training was lengthy and rigorous. very few of the studies reviewed used all methodological standards recommended in the content-analysis literature (Krippendorff. 1997)'. and Wood. Attempts to link content and form measures to recall/ readership began in the 1950s (Twedt. This study There is a growing recognition that the rules of good quantitative methodology ought to apply to analyses of message content (Krippendorff. However. 1980. no attempt was made to measure such content characteristics as product type or persuasive appeals. with a call for more rigorous research standards.

Coding was conducted by a team of four trained coders.. ranging in size from 200 to 700. Coding assignments were made randomly based on a total sample size of 247 readership studied advertisements from the eight issues of EL&P.e. Specifically. evaluate. and (b) a careful examination of idiosyncrasies of business-to-business advertisements. The pool of variables was reduced to 75 for final inclusion in analyses. audience data were obtained from PennWell Advertising Readership Research (PARR) Reports. how much of it was read? 3. and Attractiveness of the Advertisement. i. informative b. a random sample of readers received a duplicate issue. attention-getting These PARR surveys were conducted by mail. If the reader noticed the advertisement. Approximately three weeks after the regular mailing of the issue. A list of form and content variables as used in the final analysis is presented in Appendix A (including reliability figures). which indicates its readership as composed largely of electric utility managers. via combining variables and eliminating variables with low reliability9 or extremely low variance. It is a tabloid-size monthly news magazine aimed at management. supervisors.8 Coding and analysis The codebook developed for the content analysis provides measures of constructs selected for their potential predictive value when correlated with readership scores from the PARR Reports. The full codebook contains a detailed definition of each of the 190 measured variables and each category within the variable. engineering. readers were asked to go through the issue again and answer the questions attached to each advertisement. In an enclosed letter. The publication's circulation is audited by the Business Publication Audit (BPA) bureau. For the advertisements studied here. Each construct is classified as either a form construct (pertinent to the vehicle. and purchasing personnel in all segments of the electric utility industry. operating. and compare the readership of and response to their advertising. Informativeness of the Advertisement. Did the reader notice the advertisement? 2. What was the reaction to the advertisement? a. eight issues of Electric Light & Power (EL&P) magazine were randomly chosen for analysis. print magazine) or content construct (relative to the subject matter and presentation). The PARR surveys asked the following questions: 1.7 The representative sample differed by studied issue. The final analyses utilized the 54 form and 21 content independent variables listed in Appendix A10 and four dependent variables taken from the PARR Reports: Aided Advertisement Recall. All advertisements in these issues were included in the analysis. 6     . This comprehensive pool of measured variables was generated from (a) a review of past research and professional guidelines. conducted by PennWell at no charge to provide advertisers with a means to measure.  advertisements. and consultants. response rates ranged from 10 percent to 50 percent. Advertisement Readership. Categorical independent variables were included via standard procedures for dummy and effect coding Downloaded from warc. EL&P is published by PennWell Publishing Company. Average inter-coder reliabilities were calculated prior to the initiation of coding and again with a 10 percent subset of the final data set. A stepwise multiple-regression model was developed for each dependent variable.

4% 6. 1983). Predictors relating to the size of the advertisement-fractional page. Sig. Both predictors are also highly significant (p < .com 7     .0001   -. TABLE 1: STEPWISE PREDICTION OF AIDED ADVERTISEMENT RECALL Independent Variable Pearson r Reliability (% or r)   96% 96% 96% .24).05 using Bonferroni test (criterion = .  (Cohen and Cohen.6% NA   20.34). color (. which meets the p < .833. On the other hand. copy in the right half of the advertisement (-.12 Sig.0001).10).0001* <. service as the subject of the advertisement (. averaged.10 .36 . *Sig.4% 47. 1995) employed throughout the analyses. Anderson. junior page.47 -. Final regression coefficients for the predictor variables for Aided Recall show four negative predictors-fractional page (b = 47).12).0007. = .0007) for the final 75 independent variables entered in the multiple regression.0001). and Black.58 F (9.9 percent) but hold the strongest positive relationship to Aided Recall. and the average size of secondary visuals (. Inspection of interitem correlations for the predictor variables and condition index/VIF coefficients revealed no significant multicollinearity problems.9% NA 49. reliabilities.48 . final betas. frequencies.0001* . tabloid Downloaded from warc. junior page (-. tabloid spreads have a very low frequency in this study (6.15 . holds at p < .0005* . Adjusted R2 = . Yet.16 -.6% Final Beta   -. and levels of significance for Aided Recall.34 .12 .31 . or otherwise maipulated from the original measure(s).18).18 -.0140 . Positive contributions to Aided Recall are indicated for tabloid spread ( b = .18   <.16). Table 1 displays a summary of the zeroorder correlations.0001* <.24 .09   .92(r) 78% 78% 75% 85-100%   84% Frequency (%)   19.10 -. with a final beta of . copy in the bottom half of the advertisement (.04 -.05 criterion and the stricter Bonferroni test ( < . The frequencies indicate that junior pages are the most-often-used page size (47. Tatham. Form variables Fractional page Junior page Tabloid spread Color Copy on bottom half Copy in right half Major visual chart/graph Average size of subvisuals Content variables Service advertised Total R2 = .0002* .2% 1.8% 14.4 percent).09). RESULTS Advertisement aided recall In the prediction of Aided Advertisement Recall.31 (r < .18   .0001* <.233) = 37.59 indicates a high level of variance explained by the nine predictors.59.multiple-regression analysis yields a total of nine predictors from the list of seventy-five variables-eight form variables and one content variable. and use of a chart or graph in the major visual (-. these findings indicate that large.4 percent) followed by fractional pages (19. Taken as a whole.0336   . the step wise. the final standardized regression coefficients (betas) indicate that both have rather strong negative partial relationships to Aided Recall.53 -. The total R2 of . Hair.31). and tabloid spread-thus provide some interesting comparisons when all predictors are submitted in a regression.0059 Note: NA indicates the reliability or frequency is not applicable because variables in this table have been combined.

0448 Once again. The summary statistics for Advertisement Readership are shown in Table 2.0001) positive predictor of Aided Recall. and a large average size of secondary visuals are weaker predictors (negative and positive. institutional. while two are content variables.3% 11.12; Adjusted  R2  = .7% 17. Advertisement readership The stepwise-multiple-regression analysis for Advertisement Readership produces two positive and three negative predictor variables: subject apparent in the visuals ( b = . having a major visual chart or graph. color is a significant (r < .6 percent) is second only to product advertisements (67.). its frequency (20. Sig. Not surprisingly.0127 .12. with a final beta of .com 8     . and headline in the bottom left half of the advertisement (-.4 percent).9 percent.0008) just shy of the Bonferroni criterion for Readership. TABLE 2: STEPWISE PREDICTION OF ADVERTISEMENT READERSHIP Independent Variable Form variables Subject apparent in visuals Tabloid page Headline in bottom left section Content variables Logical argument used Fear appeal used Total R2  = . and while it is not as massive as that for Aided Recall.10 . with tabloid page (r = .16). Having copy in the bottom half of an advertisement and not having copy in the right half of the advertisement relate to greater Recall. The total R2 is . Service's reliability (84. On the other hand.08 -.0001 Pearson r Reliability (% or r) Frequency (%) Final Beta Sig.22) which could indicate the larger format is a detriment to readability. logical argument as an approach/appeal to the subject (-.3% . three-color 3.18 -. not meeting the Bonferroni criterion. but none  meets the stricter r = . And.0 percent.22 -.20).12 .16 .11 Frequencies indicate the abundant use of color-frequency for two-color is 10. Its frequency (17. size of the advertisement seems to be a significant predictor in the regression. etc. Readership for the tabloid page shows a negative relationship (b = -.242) = 6.8% 1.19 -. the junior page.0365 . it also seems that the unit favored by advertisers in this study.2% 26. fear appeal used (. Another notable point in Table 1 is the performance of the only significant content variable-subject of the advertisement as service (versus product.20 -. .1 percent. it does achieve a high level of statistical significance.0008 . and four-color 64.10 F (5.4 percent) and fractional page (19.37.  spread advertising units are best remembered.2 percent. versus black and white at 21. it is only marginally better remembered than the much smaller. All of the Readership independent variables meet the  r < .6 percent).13).22).11 75% 96% 76% 60-93% 89-95% 60. tabloid page used (-. The Downloaded from warc.12). respectively).13 -. and its final beta is positive (. Unfortunately. = <.0016 . less expensive fractional page unit.0 percent) is good.20.8 percent) places it third behind junior page (47. Three are form variables.12). The strongest positive relationship for Readership is having the subject apparent in the visuals. is poorly recalled.05 level of significance.0007 Bonferroni level.

Table 3 shows the summary statistics for Informativeness of the advertisement.8% 19. the tabloid page. logical argument as an approach/appeal (b = . Therefore. Both are Downloaded from warc.3 percent it is third from the bottom among the 13 approach/appeal variables submitted to the regression. and its frequency (60. Once again.0025 .16) has a frequency (26. the final beta for fear (. is the strongest negative predictor (b = -.0265 . Placing the headline in the bottom left portion of the advertisement shows an inverse relationship (b = -.0119 . a large and frequently used format. being able to divine the subject of the advertisement by looking at the visuals appears to aid readership.21 . four are form variables. this time to emerge as significant predictors of Informativeness.6% -.regression analysis for the third dependent variable.24 . all predictors of Informativeness meet the criterion  r < . logical argument discourages readership. has the second highest positive relationship (b = .16) for Informativeness.7% 14.13) to Readership.05.19 .19 . Informativeness of the advertisement Stepwise-multiple.4% NA 60.15 . results in two negative predictors and four positive predictors.19 . As a predictor.3 percent) that places it near the middle of the other approach/appeal variables.19).com 9     . but none meets the stringent Bonferroni test (r  = . As in the case of Readership. or otherwise manipulated from the original measure(s). The fractional page.7 percent) shows that more than half the advertisements depict the subject in the visuals.0001).0007).22 -.0236 Note: NA indicates the reliability of frequency is not applicable because variables in this table have been combined.20 is highly statistically significant (r < . perceived Informativeness of the advertisement. inducing fear in readers cannot be discounted as a method of getting them to read advertisements. The second content variable in the Readership regression is the use of a fear appeal.14 -. averaged.25 .16 .12) indicates it is positively related to Readership. Frequencies for number of subheads vary from 0 to 12 with a mean of just under 1 per advertisement. The first. logical argument is negatively related to Advertisement Readership-even with an audience of engineers. -. It seems these readers consider little advertisements more informative than big ones. Two content variables are expressed in the Readership regression. The use of subheads and placement of the headline in the top half of the advertisement also appear to result in more informative advertisements. Interestingly.0091 . The total R2 of .14 .0021 . advertisement size variables have run the gauntlet of the stepwise multiple regression. Overall. Headline in the top half of the advertisement has the highest frequency of all positions (64. Fear appeals are infrequently used in these advertisements-at 11.  reliability of the predictor is a respectable 75 percent.4% 64. Interestingly. a small format and frequently used unit. and two are content variables. TABLE 3: STEPWISE PREDICTION OF ADVERTISEMENT INFORMATIVENESS Independent Variable Form variables Tabloid page Fractional page Headline in top half Number of subheads Subject apparent in visuals Content variables Altruism appeal used Pearson r Reliability (% or r) Frequency (%) Final Beta Sig.4 percent).81 (r) 75% 90-96% 17.13 96% 96% 96% .

Sig.0024 .03 . once again highly statistically significant. Both having copy in the right half of the advertisement and the number of subheads demonstrate a moderate negative contribution to Attractiveness (b = -. The frequency for copy in the bottom half of the advertisement (49. all bearing a negative relationship to Attractiveness: fractional page at b = -.23 -.0001* <. Two content predictors are present for Attractiveness of the advertisement: fear and logical argument as approaches/appeals.08 96% 96% 96% 78% 78% .44.41) and copy in the bottom half of the advertisement (b = . These two predictors also show the strongest positive relationships: color (b = .14) of Informativeness but is the least significant of the regression predictors (r = .41 -.0265). followed by junior page (b = -.0189 . And. its reverse relationship to Informativeness indicates that appeals to altruism in an advertisement are not viewed as informative by the sample of readers. and tabloid page (b = -.0005 .8% 49.0001* .14). Pearson r Reliability (% or ) Frequency (%) Final Beta Sig.16 .0007) for the final 75 independent variables entered in the multiple regression.28 -.0049 In the stepwise multiple regression for Attractiveness.17 .28).com 10     . averaged. Two other predictors demonstrate significance that meets the Bonferroni test: color (r < . It has the weakest significance of the Informativeness predictors.14 .19) and headline in the top of the advertisement (b =  .4% 47.15. Altruism is the only content variable in the Informativeness regression.81 (r) 89-95% 60-93% 19.31 -.8 percent) is the highest for all the copy position variables.238) = 18.50 -. Its frequency is relatively low (14.02 .11 .05 using Bonferroni test (criterion = .2% NA NA 11.0070 . TABLE 4: STEPWISE PREDICTION OF AD ATTRACTIVENESS Independent Variable Form variables Fractional page Junior page Tabloid page Copy in bottom half Color Number of subheads Content variables Fear appeal used Logical argument used Total R2 = . Having the subject apparent in the visuals is a positive predictor (b = .15 .6 percent) compared to the other 12 approach/appeal constructs. Downloaded from warc.15 <.23).3% -. Attractiveness is most positively predicted by color and copy placement.0001* .0106 <.3% 26.15).42.8% 14.41 -.21 .0001 Note: NA indicates the reliability of frequency is not applicable because variables in this table have been combined. holds at p < .08 -. respectively).14. size of the advertisement is again represented by three significant predictors. -.4% 17. = < .42.92 (r) . with a final beta of -. Adjusted R2 F (9. Attractiveness of the advertisement Table 4 summarizes the multiple regression for Attractiveness of the advertisement.  positively related according to the final betas: number of subheads (b = .17 and b = -. *Sig.31.0005). or otherwise manipulated from the original measure(s).0001) and copy in the bottom half of the advertisement (r = . The overall R2 is a substantial .16 .

Thus. or attractiveness. Donath. The nearly 60 percent variance explained for Aided Recall is certainly worth even the considerable effort of a comprehensive content analysis. Perhaps advertisers who use fear as an approach/appeal present fear in a dynamic way to draw the reader's attention to the advertisement. Our research extends the earlier efforts of researchers (e.. Thus. Riffe and Freitag. Simply stated. our current content-analysis application provides results specific to a technical audience for a trade publication. We do not believe that the aggregate approach used by the McGraw-Hill group (as reported in Donath.12 for Readership. What makes fear a positive attribute for Attractiveness and logical argument negative is open to speculation. 1993. 'masked' effects and patterns. In all four regressions. it's difficult to compare our results to others. . variables that predict readership are not the same as those that predict aided recall.. and resulting in depressed predictive ability. Other fledgling attempts. Gronhaug. Can we identify standard or universal variables to content analyze in every case? With the evidence to date. 1980. and Gronmo. Our content analysis used proper methods. clearly the most universally significant variables are use of color and large advertisement size. For Aided Recall.15) shows it to be negatively related to Attractiveness. 1982) is optimal. perhaps it is difficult to devise an attractive method of expressing logic in an advertisement. 1997).3 percent) is quite low. Soley. The variance accounted both for recall and for advertisement evaluations exceeds that achieved by Zinkhan's (1984) innovative effort to predict buying intention from five factors of immediate audience reactions (15 percent). The prediction of Attractiveness is also quite successful. 1991). 1986) and provides strong evidence for the efficacy of content analyzing relevant variables for prediction of advertising success. 1982). with 42 percent of the variance explained. Meta-analysis will allow the statistical tracking of the interaction of relevant content and form variables with audience types. including the most comprehensive ones (Donath. Kvitastein. What is interesting is that fear (b = . These findings point to the value of this methodology for the building of grounded theory and for application in commercial settings. Chamblee et al.16) is positively related to Attractiveness. But beyond this. 1991. we call for replications and extensions across publications and audiences. This will be our best shot at bringing resolution to divergent results and charting useful predictive models for print advertisement development.  The frequency for logical argument (26. and we therefore tend to view our own attempt as benchmark. we successfully predict an important component of variance in the dependent variables from carefully measured content and form variables. DISCUSSION The utility of content analysis This research has demonstrated the manifest value of content analysis as a vital predictive tool in the process of assessing advertisement success.59.3 percent) is in the mid-range while fear (11. is highly statistically significant.g. Even the lowest 11     . 1982. The final beta for logical argument (b = -. eventually allowing for a meta-analysis (Rosenthal. Diverse advertiser goals It is apparent that the predictors emerging for the four dependent variables are not congruent across regressions. informativeness. the figure is . And. Downloaded from warc. We propose that content analysis be considered as an integral part of publisher and advertiser research agendas. fail to report such essentials as reliabilities and sampling methodologies (Krippendorff. This study provides further confirmation of these two 'standards'. leaving variances untapped.

This suggests 'design' variables may get noticed but it takes both 'design' and 'substance' or 'style' variables to get an advertisement read and taken seriously. and advertisement evaluations are fairly mutually exclusive processes. Conversely. 1980). service. aided recall. The absence of common predictors strongly suggests readership.  The disagreement among predictors across the regressions is an important finding. If they wish simply to have the advertisement (and their product. if the advertisement is to be carefully read. Although the content variables as a whole do not perform nearly as well as the form variables (consistent with much past research. TABLE 5: SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT RESULTS. it should be designed for that purpose. The implication for advertisers is that they should set their objectives accordingly. e.. or company) remembered.g. the design should reflect that 12     . Table 5 summarizes the findings for the four regressions in light of practitioner recommendations. Informativeness should be approached differently than Attractiveness. Holbrook and Lehmann.12 Conventional wisdom and the findings The experiential findings of practitioners were a strong motivating force behind this research. they do much better for Readership and Informativeness than for Aided Recall and Attractiveness. and many of the form and content variables were derived from industry tenets.Recall          -Readership                     -Informativeness                            -Attractiveness +        -        -        Mixed   Ø    Ø    Ø    Ø     Ø    +    +    Ø   Ø    Ø    Ø    Ø   +    Ø    Ø    +   Ø    Ø    Ø    Ø     Ø    Ø    +    Ø   Ø    -     Ø    Ø   Ø    Ø    +    -   -     Ø    Ø    Ø   +    Ø    Ø    Ø     Ø    Ø    Ø    Ø   Ø    Ø    Ø    Ø     Ø    Ø    Ø    Ø   Ø    Ø    Ø    Ø   Ø    Ø    Ø    Ø   Ø    Ø    Ø    Ø   Ø    Ø    Ø    Ø   Ø    Ø    Ø    Ø   Ø    Ø    Ø    Ø   Ø    Ø    Ø    Ø   Downloaded from warc. IN LIGHT OF PRACTITIONERS' 'CONVENTIONAL WISDOM' Practitioner  Recommendation? Characteristic of Advertisement Form Variables: ü ü     ü ü ü                     ü ü ü ü ü ü ü ü Larger size Subject apparent:     In headline     In visuals Copy length Color(s) Location in publication Headline placement     Top     Bottom left Number of subheads Major visual-chart or graph Larger size of subvisuals Copy placement:     Bottom     Right Content Variables: Technical approach Case history approach Spokesperson approach Competitive comparison Question appeal Humor appeal Status appeal Learned motive appeal Significant Predictor of: .

with readily apparent subjects.g. 1986. We have demonstrated. patriotism. altruism. it delivers or should deliver a sales message for the product or service being advertised'. and placement of the advertisement within the publication. and humorous copy (Dunn and Barban. Use of such arguments relates positively to attractiveness but negatively to readership.  ü ü ü         Logical argument appeal Problem/solution appeal Calls to action Fear appeal Altruism appeal Adv. 1992). use of technical evidence. 1983). CONCLUSION This study has renewed the scrutiny of message variables for clues in the prediction of advertising success. is not found to contribute to positive advertisement outcomes. and attractive visuals that are more important than headlines (Roman and Maas. 1986). 1986)-has mixed results. Fear and altruism are not usually mentioned in 'how-to' lists of recommendations for print advertisements yet are found to have positive impacts in this study. Fryburger. and Allison (1996). 1996). calls to action. a learned motive (e. We propose the establishment of a line of research using comprehensive content-analysis techniques with diverse dependent variables in a variety of contexts. use of questions. fear. or a solution to the reader's problem. However. 1992). A list of all variables in the study appears in Appendix A. This research confirms all those recommendations. 'advertising [is] just like the personal salesperson. It is through the selection of content and form characteristics that this selling goal is variously achieved via print advertising. The use of logical /rational arguments-advocated by Ogilvy & Mather (Dunn and Barban. Roman and Maas also encourage. Rather than attempting to identify a host of universally predictive message variables. and the non-significant contribution of copy length in our study supports the notion that long copy will not decrease readership or other positive outcomes. Instead. Meta-analysis seems ideally suited to the task of statistically profiling successful message variables for divergent publications and audience 13     . and Rotzoll. widely applicable scheme for tapping print advertisement characteristics that may Downloaded from warc. Tannenbaum. This research has developed a practical.. case histories. 'Conventional wisdom' from the advertising industry tells us to create simple. 'don't be afraid of long copy'. We have been urged to use color when possible (Sandage. According to Schultz. and logical arguments emerge as important approaches to consider. and (b) specialized publications and audiences. in a business-to-business context. friendship). other 'old salts' from the annals of advertising are not confirmed. Offering a benefit such as status. as some practitioners would suggest (Roman and Maas. Tannenbaum and Allison. that is. Ogilvy. Other 'recommended' approaches and styles that do not pan out include: testimonials. the utility of conducting valid and methodologically rigorous content analyses as an integral part of an applied research plan. type-service   Ø    -     Ø    +   Ø    Ø    Ø    Ø   Ø    Ø    Ø    Ø   Ø    +    Ø    +   Ø    Ø    -     Ø   +    Ø    Ø    Ø     Note: The variables above are limited to those that either (a) are consistently recommended in practitioners' texts or (b) prove to be significant predictors in at least one of this study's four regression equations. orderly print advertisements13. and competitive comparisons (Schultz. 1989) in relatively large advertisements (Dunn and Barban. we instead acknowledge the idiosyncrasies of (a) varying desired outcome variables.

6% 19.1% 5.8% 10.4% 11. coding could be completed by only one or two coders. Proportion of subvisuals that are photographs 34. Major visual in top half of ad 21. Headline in bottom half of ad 9.4% 64.8% 0.72 .81 65% 65% 65% 65% 65% 65% 65% 65% 65% 75% 75% 75% 83% 75% 84-100% 84-100% 1. Major visual a photograph 29. Size of major visual (> half of ad) 32. if provided commercially.0% 10. Major visual a chart or graph 31. Headline length on words 17.8% 0. Headline in top left section of ad 12.5% 4.  predict important goals of advertising. Proportion of subvisuals that are illustrations Downloaded from warc. Tabloid spread 2. The establishment of a broad-reaching database would be cost effective. With this. Headline in right half of ad 11. Major visual in right half of ad 24. Major visual in illustration 30. and programming is simple. Number of subheads 19. An initial database has been constructed. Headline in left half of ad 10. And such a data 14     . Major visual in top left section of ad 25. Major visual in left half of ad 23.0% 2.9% 8.3% 1.2% 48.3% 60. Fractional page 7. Headline in bottom left section of ad 14.25") 16. Baby spread 6. Tabloid page 3.8% 64. Appendices APPENDIX A: CONTENT ANALYTIC VARIABLES Form Variables Frequency (% or mean) 6.98 25.75 83% . advertisers and their agencies could utilize the coding results as part of their marketing analysis to help answer the question of 'why' readers pay attention to and like their advertisements.5% 1.2% 1.2% 0. Major visual in bottom left section of ad 27. Major visual in bottom half of ad 22.6% 41.7% .7% 2.20 Reliability (% or r) 96% 96% 96% 96% 96% 96% 76% 76% 76% 76% 76% 76% 76% 76% 84% . Headline size (>. Headline in top right section of ad 13. would be an extremely economical addition to current audience research services.4% 1.9% 17.2% 0.5% 1. Headline in top half of ad 8. Headline in bottom right section of ad 15. Junior spread 4.5% 34.8% 25.53 52. which could be further developed with the addition of data for other publications. Subject apparent in visual(s) 33. Major visual in top right section of ad 26.2% 9. Subject apparent in headline 18. Major visual-full ad 20.1% 47. Junior page 5.8% 6. Major visual in bottom right section of ad 28.

Proportion of subvisuals that are charts or graphs 36. Copy in top right section of ad 48.7% 11. Number of paragraphs of copy 51.6% 2. since company or product recognition is often a fundamental pre-sales-call goal. Competitive comparison approach 11. Proportion of subvisuals in bottom right of ad 42.8% 3. Number of calls to action (e.g. Technical approach 7.6% 2. Ad located in premium position 54.5% 0. Fear appeal 14.87 46.0% 22. Altruism appeal 15. Ad located after center spread 53.4% 1. Proportion of subvisuals in bottom left of ad 41. Average size of subvisuals in columns 38.89 1. Case history approach 9.4% 4. Copy in bottom half of ad 44. Problem/solution appeal 19.6% 23. respectively.07 2.6% 4.3% 14.3% 36.09 . recognition/aided recall is perhaps the more salient criterion.0% 2. Copy in top left section of ad 47.6% 50. Logical argument appeal 18.3% 26. many commercial services cover both.6% 20. Proportion of subvisuals in top left of ad 39.5% 23. Color(s) used in ad (1-4) Content Variables 1. Company name in headline . Analogy/allegorical approach 8.5% 10.8% 3. Average color (1-4) of subvisuals 37. Copy in top half of ad 43.7% 15     . Ad for service 3.2% 2. Ad for process 4.10 84-100% 83-100% 85-100% 75-100% 75-100% 75-100% 75-100% 78% 78% 78% 78% 78% 78% 78% 78% .0% 24.  35.20 .2% 14.30 9.6% 49. Learned motive appeal 17. Humor appeal 13.6% 3. Downloaded from warc.7% 84% 84% 84% 84% 84% 63% 72% 89% 87% 69% 100% 88% 90% 96% 74% 73% 85% 67% 96% 62-67% 90% Endnotes 1.6% 2. Ad located before center spread 52. The terms recognition and recall are usually intended to refer to aided and unaided recall.17 . coupons.31 81.18 .5% 11. 800 #s) 20. Proportion of subvisuals in top right of ad 40.4% 3.97 95% 95% 100% . Question appeal 12. Corporate ad 5. Copy in left half of ad 45.92 67. Ad for product 2.8% 55. In the case of business-to-business advertising. Spokesperson/expert approach 10. Copy in bottom left section of ad 49. Reader/customer orientation in ad 21. Institutional ad 6. Status appeal 16. Copy in right half of ad 46. Copy in bottom right section of ad 50.9% 14.

all five different advertisement approaches (technical. engineers. They also used a very limited. spokesperson/expert use. competitive comparison). 1987. non-profitability sample. 1983a. type and location of subvisuals. Rossiter (1981) examined the impact of 13 'syntax' variables on Starch readership scores for advertisements in one issue of Newsweek. Standen. the collapsing of variables also washes out individual variances and potential predictive ability. 1983). operations management and supervision. 1989.505). Typical of some of the publications in the advertising literature. 5. 1996. other qualified functions' (SRDS. Rossiter (1981) properly reported inter-coder reliabilities and dropped variables that did not meet a set criterion (rho = . including construction. While objectivity is the acknowledged goal of such a social scientific method. and/or (c) the copy. 1983b. including financial and administrative. etc. 55) after only 10 hours of coding. and four-color = 4. copy length. major visual size and placement. variables with reliability coefficients below 60 percent or r = . 1952) gave no description of its content-analysis methodology at all.60) but had a very poor. 1985. Stuhlfaut. Industrial Equipment News. Rossiter (1981) termed form and content variables 'mechanical' and 'message' variables respectively. (b) the visuals. For example.70 were dropped. p. in that respondents have the opportunity to view the advertisements. three-color = 3. (Assael. And. purchasing. learned Downloaded from warc. Although he explained an impressive amount of variance. five persuasive appeals (question. customer service. a technique used by Twedt (1952) and Holbrook and Lehmann (1980). two-color = 2. 9. case history. it is recognized that what is actually achieved is more properly termed 'inter-subjectivity'. Color was entered in the regression as black and white = 1. The first study of advertising content as related to readership (Twedt. Kofron and Burgi. Marney. Studies of compositional form variables in print advertisements include: Newspaper Advertising Bureau. 1988. humor. These differential patterns may be seen quite clearly in Table 5. Additionally. Operations. We chose not to factor analyze the predictor set. 3. advertisement location. Soley and Reid. 4. analogy/allegory. design. This classifies the PARR Reports as aided recall research. Wesson and Stewart. 1987. Marketing News. Holbrook and Lehmann's use of Cronbach's alpha as an indicator of reliability is suspect. Wesson. 1967. making inference impossible. commercial marketing. 8. While a reduction in the predictor set is beneficial to degrees of freedom and power. Sales & Marketing Digest. engineering management and supervision.  2. A summary of the BPA statement list readers as: 'General and corporate management. position in the publication. 1979. 7. There have also been studies of other form variables-advertisement size. 1989. 10. including planning. performance. 12. he looked exclusively at picture size and headline characteristics. non-profitability sample and complained about decoders becoming 'exhausted' (p. For example. we may also note the variables that did not contribute significantly to any of the four outcome variables: headline 16     . 1986. R & D. Numerous variables were measured as they occurred in (a) the headline. Due to low frequencies of occurrence. Instead. status. 6. these applications were collapsed across the three before inclusion in the regression analyses. we included individual variables and employed the Bonferroni adjustment for multiple significance test. 11. use of color. 1989. maintenance and fleet.

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com 20     . Weber. -----. G. W. 'A Multiple Factor Analysis of Advertising Readership'. 'Headline Length as a Factor in Magazine Ad Readership'.from Kent State University and his M. Journalism Quarterly 64. D. general manager of Liggett-Stashower Interactive in Cleveland. construction and mining equipment. W. M.. R. and D. Furse. Zollars. NOTES & EXHIBITS John L Naccarato John L Naccarato is vice president. from Cleveland State University. E. Attitude and Affect in Response to Advertising'. Lexington. and D.s. K. 'How Media Techniques Improve Ad Readership'. A. Reid. J.and E. He received his B. may 1983. 5 (1992): 24-29. 'Rating Industrial Advertisements'. B. 1 (1984): 43-48. 2 (1989): 466-68. AGRI Marketing. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. G.. 6 (1994): 698-716. Whipple. Hillsdale. C. research. W. Newbury Park. Ohio. T. Industrial Marketing Management 13. 1990. P. 'The Perils of Periodical Indexes: Some Problems in Constructing Samples for Content Analysis and Culture Indicators Research'. 2nd ed. N. Brock. 1986. MA: Lexington Books. 'Primacy Order Effects in the Measurement of Trade Magazine Receipt and Readership'.A. Wesson. and M. Journalism Quarterly 66. Journal of Advertising Research 32. sales promotion. Zinkhan. and L. In 'Attention. 'Basic Content Analysis'. Wood. C. 'Tools of the Trade: B-to-B's 60% Standard'. M.  Stewart. G. 'Modeling the Effectiveness of Advertising in Contemporary Markets: Research Findings and Opportunities'. CA: Sage. steel. Twedt. and Instructor of public relations and advertising at Cleveland State University. 1 (1987): 189-93. Communication Research 21. W. T. M. 2 (1980): 78-81. His 26 years in advertising. Stewart. Downloaded from warc. Clark. Stewart. 'Gender and Readership of heads in Magazine Ads'. and media have included work with regional and national clients in the fields of power generation. W. Journal of Marketing 44. Stuhlfaut. D. McManamon. 'Effective Television Advertising: A Study of 1000 Commercials'. D. medical equipment and hospitals. Journal of Applied Psychology 36. public relations. Tellis. 1994. VandenBergh. 'Puffery and Magazine Ad Readership'.A. H. Marketing and Media Decisions. January 1989. 3 (1952): 207-15. ed.

New York.  Kimberly A. the social impact of advertising.D. Journalism Quarterly. She received her Ph. Downloaded from warc. Fax: +1 (212) 319-5265 All rights reserved including database rights. and Communication Yearbook. posted on intranets. Communication Monographs. Journal of Communication.warc. Neuendorf is associate professor of communication at Cleveland State University. Her teaching and research interests include media use and ethnic identity. This electronic file is for the personal use of authorised users based at the subscribing company's office location. Neuendorf Kimberly A. © Copyright Advertising Research Foundation 1997 Advertising Research Foundation 432 Park Avenue 21     . or researcher on nearly 100 content analyses. archived or shared electronically either within the purchaser’s organisation or externally without express written permission from Warc. Her work has appeared in such publications as Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media. It may not be reproduced. e-mailed. NY 10016 Tel: +1 (212) 751-5656. She has served as principal investigator. from Michigan State University. advisor. extranets or the internet. and research methodologies. 6th Floor.

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