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This article investigates differences in the appreciation of open and closed advertisements. Ad openness refers to the amount of guidance towards a certain message in an advertisement. An open ad is defined as one which provides minimal guidance towards a certain message. Building on Phillips' research (2000), we studied whether the preference that she found for closed ads might be moderated or even reversed if Need for Cognition and comprehension of the ad are taken into account. We investigated appreciation for open and closed ads under conditions relatively favourable for processing open ads, using participants who are more motivated and able to interpret the ads than average. The results show that closed ads are still appreciated more than open ads, mainly because they are easier to understand. The expectation that Need for Cognition influences ad appreciation was not confirmed.
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Final Revision April 2004
Ketelaar, P. E., Gisbergen, M. en and closed advertisements:
P. E. Ketelaar, Assistant Professor of Commu iversity of Nijmegen, Department of
ds Organization for Scientific
S., & Bosman, J. A. M. (2004). Op
Moderaring effects of comprehension on appreciation.
Title of conference book will soon be available
nication, Un
Communication, phone: +31243612722, e-mail: M. S. van Gisberg
Assistant Professor of Communication, University of Nijmegen, Department of Communication,
phone: +31243611812, e-mail: J. A. M. Bosman, Associate Professo
of Communication, University of Nijmegen, Department of Communication, phone: +31243227120,
e-mail: All researchers are from the University of Nijmegen, P.O. Box 9104,
6500 HE Nijmegen, The Netherlands, Fax: +31243613073.
he research was supported by a grant from NWO (the NetherlanT
Research). We wish to thank Thijs Komen and Tommy Roelofs for their work as research assistants
and the Institute for the Car Branch and Management (IVA) in the Netherlands for allowing their
students to participate in our study.
This article investigates differences in the appreciation of open and closed advertisements. Ad
openness refers to the amount of guidance towards a certain message in an advertisement. An
open ad is defined as one which provides minimal guidance towards a certain message.
Building on Phillips’ research (2000), we studied whether the preference that she found for
closed ads might be moderated or even reversed if Need for Cognition and comprehension of
the ad are taken into account. We investigated appreciation for open and closed ads under
conditions relatively favourable for processing open ads, using participants who are more
motivated and able to interpret the ads than average. The results show that closed ads are still
appreciated more than open ads, mainly because they are easier to understand. The
expectation that Need for Cognition influences ad appreciation was not confirmed.
In the last decades there has been a shift
towards ads with less guidance towards a
specific message (Dingena 1994;
Gisbergen, Ketelaar and Beentjes 2004;
Warlaumont 1995). Different terms have
been used to denote these ads, for instance,
complex image ads (Phillips 1997, 2000),
implicit ads (Dingena 1994), and
ambiguous ads (Warlaumont 1995). We
will use the terms 'open' and 'closed' ads, as
these terms include all of these
denotations. Open ads have the common
characteristic that consumers are not
manifestly directed toward a certain
message. Compared to traditional ‘closed’
ads, the message in these open ads is
relatively complex, implicit, and
ambiguous. In this article, we will focus on
the possibility that open ads yield more
appreciation than closed ads.
Given the increasing appearance of open
ads in the media, advertisers obviously
expect to influence consumers. For
instance, the self generated interpretations
caused by open ads might be more
persuasive than the cut and dried
arguments offered in closed ads (Petty and
Cacioppo 1981). Also, open ads might
enhance attention because they deviate
from consumers' expectations about ads
(Heckler and Childers 1992). According to
Smit and Neijens (2000) and Schreurs
(2001), the current ad overload, the
repetitious nature of ads and their obvious
content, causes consumers to judge the
commonly used closed ads as obtrusive
and as an assault on their intelligence. It is
possible that open ads do not suffer this
fate, but only if consumers derive pleasure
from searching for a plausible
interpretation in open ads (McQuarrie and
Mick 1999). Of course, the eventual
discovery of a satisfactory interpretation
seems conditional for positive ad
appreciation (McQuarrie and Mick 1999).
However, contrary to these conjectures
about the possible positive effects of ad
openness on ad appreciation, Phillips
(2000) found that consumers prefer closed
ads to open ones. Phillips compared ad
appreciation for three completely visual
ads (open ads) with appreciation for the
same ads with a headline giving away a
part of the clue of the visual part of the ad
(moderate closure) or most of it (complete
closure). A path-analysis showed the main
determinant of ad appreciation to be ease
of comprehension. In other words, open
ads are liked less than closed ads because
they are harder to understand. There was
just a small hint in Phillips’ analysis that
open ads have positive effects on ad
appreciation: a small negative beta (-.11)
for the direct effect of complete closure
upon appreciation. On the one hand,
complete closure enhanced comprehension
(beta = .21) and thereby appreciation; on
the other hand complete closure “decreased
the participants’ pleasure because it was
unnecessary” (Phillips 2000, p. 22). This
last mentioned effect was, however, small,
and the net result of these two competing
effects was that completely closed ads
were liked more than moderately closed
ones. Moreover, Phillips suggests that the
negative effect of complete closure was the
result of the fact that she employed ads that
were relatively easy to comprehend,
implying that this apparent positive effect
of openness was actually due to the
redundancy of closing the ads completely.
Another argument in favour of closed ads
is that Phillips’s experiment was relatively
favourable for open ads, and that even then
the results favoured closed ads: In an
experimental setting, participants were
invited to scrutinize the ads and were
probably motivated to spend more time on
them than the average three seconds
estimated for real life scanning of
magazine ads (Lohse 1997; Pieters,
Warlop and Wedel 1999; Rosbergen,
Pieters and Wedel 1997). In the short
period of time that is spent on ads in real
life, the chances of arriving at a
satisfactory interpretation are much smaller
and thus – according to McQuarrie and
Mick’s (1999) proposal that the derivation
of satisfaction is dependent upon finding
an interpretation – the positive effects of ad
openness should be even more apparent.
Thus, Phillips’s research suggests that the
increasing use of open ads is misguided.
The average consumer is not motivated by
the challenge of open ads but prefers easily
interpretable ads.
However, questions may be raised about
the generalisability of Phillips’s results.
Phillips's student population might not
have been particularly interested in the
products advertised in the test-ads
(toothpaste, racquets and athletic clothing).
It is possible that open ads are appreciated
more by specific groups of consumers. For
instance, whereas the general audience
may not be very interested in the
advertiser’s message and may be reluctant
to spend much time or energy extracting
the meaning from the ad (O'Donohue
2001), it seems reasonable to suggest that
advertisements fare better when consumers
are involved in the product category, for
instance because they are in the market for
the advertised product. More generally,
following Petty and Cacioppo’s
Elaboration Likelihood Model (1981), the
likelihood that consumers elaborate upon
an (open) ad and find an interpretation
depends upon their motivation and
capacity to interpret the ad. If, as suggested
by McQuarrie and Mick (1999),
appreciation of open ads is contingent
upon the search for and the discovery of
meaning in an ad, appreciation for these
ads should be higher for consumers who
are motivated and capable of interpreting
the ad.
Furthermore, still following Petty and
Cacioppo (1981), the chances of finding an
interpretation might also be affected by the
consumer’s Need for Cognition (NfC), an
individual’s tendency to enjoy and engage
in the process of thinking. Need for
Cognition is doubly effective as it
enhances the chance that consumers
engage in a (successful) search for
meaning and the likelihood that they will
enjoy the exercise, and hence develop a
more positive attitude towards the ad.
Research applying NfC with ads which we
would classify as open (Martin, Lang and
Wong 2003; Stayman and Kardes 1992),
yielded results favouring open versus
closed ads.
Finally, in Phillips’s model, ‘ease of
comprehension’ is used to explain why
open ads are appreciated less. If her model
is correct, open ads should always be
appreciated less than closed ads as they are
always harder to understand than closed
ads. However, it is quite possible that the
strong correlation between ease of
comprehension and ad appreciation that
she found was confounded by the fact that
participants who failed to find a
(satisfactory) interpretation obviously rated
the ads both hard to interpret and
dislikeable, and that participants failed to
arrive at a (satisfactory) interpretation for a
larger proportion of the open ads than of
the closed ones. If these participants were
excluded from the analysis, it is possible
that those who did comprehend the ad
would show a higher level of appreciation.
In other words, the advantage of open ads
may be conditional upon finding an
The aim of our study was to investigate
whether Phillips’s conclusion that open ads
are less liked than closed ones still holds
when the conditions for finding a positive
effect of open ads are optimal: when
motivation and capacity of the participants
are high, when their Need for Cognition is
high, and when the participants actually do
succeed in finding an interpretation.
We investigated car ads in combination
with 148 first year students of the Institute
for the Car Branch and Management (IVA)
in Driebergen, the Netherlands as
participants. The effects of motivation and
capacity are closely related to the topic of
the ad. These students may be assumed to
be motivated and capable of interpreting
car ads. As the participants were pre-
selected in this way, no data can be
presented to gauge the effects of
motivation and capacity. All we can do is
check if the preference for closed ads that
Phillips reports still holds under these
favourable circumstances. The ages of the
participants ranged from 18 to 26, and all
were male. Questionnaires were
administered to six different classes during
regular class hours. The students were
invited to participate but no incentive was
offered. None of them refused.
Three existing full page, full colour ads for
Mercedes, Volkswagen and Volvo were
selected to create the experimental ads (see
appendix). The selection was based on two
criteria: (1) in order to avoid ‘mere
exposure’ effects, the ad had never
appeared in Dutch magazines; (2) as the
difference between open and closed ads is
the amount of guidance towards a certain
message, the image part of the ad had to
suggest a certain interpretation, and
‘closing’ the ad with a headline had to be
As in Phillips (2000), the original copy in
the ads was removed. Open and closed
conditions were created by adding non-
explanatory (open condition) or
explanatory headlines (closed condition).
The headlines contained approximately the
same amount of words and were all placed
in the same position below the image. The
non-explanatory headlines did not relate to
the image and were – except for the brand
name – identical for Mercedes and
Volkswagen: 'Brand X is there'. Because
we did not want respondents in the open
conditions to be exposed to exactly the
same open headlines, the headline for
Volvo was: 'Drive Volvo'. The explanatory
headlines were derived from the results of
a pre-test in which 4 judges determined the
most likely interpretation(s) of the ads (as
in McQuarrie and Mick, 1996). The most
frequently occurring interpretations led to
the following headlines: 'The Mercedes is
unique,' 'Volkswagen for life,' and 'Volvo
protects you.'
Because ad appreciation is a multi-
dimensional concept, we measured it in
three ways (Brown and Stayman, 1992).
We used a 10-point overall grade (ranging
from ‘don’t like the ad at all’ to ‘like the ad
very much’); four five-point semantic
differentials (like/not like; irritating/not
irritating; appeals/does not appeal;
pretty/ugly; Cronbach's alpha = .86); and a
measurement based on the thought-listing
procedure, where participants were
requested to write down their thoughts
while inspecting the ad. Three judges
coded these thoughts as negative (1),
neutral (2) or positive (3), (average
Kendall’s Tau-b = .77). The scores of the
three judges were averaged and rounded to
negative, neutral or positive. Correlations
between the first two measures were high
for each of the three brands (average .82)
and moderate between these measures and
the thought-listing measure (average .44).
Need for Cognition
Need for Cognition was measured with a
ten item scale, a slightly shortened version
of Pieters, Verplanken and Modde’s (1987)
translation of Cacioppo, Petty and Kao’s
(1984) original scale.
In order to measure comprehension,
participants were asked what they thought
the intended message was. The answers
were coded as 1) ‘no interpretation’ when
the participants did not answer the question
or explicitly stated they were not able to
form an interpretation, as 2) ‘doubtful’
when the researchers were unable to
identify the mentioned connection between
the ad and the advertised product, and as 3)
'interpretation' when the connection was
Two booklets were compiled, each with
three experimental ads and a dummy-ad (a
textual BMW ad) to mask the purpose of
the study. The first booklet contained the
open ads for Mercedes and Volvo and the
closed ad for Volkswagen. The second
booklet contained the closed ads for
Mercedes and Volvo, and the open ad for
Volkswagen. Participants were alternately
assigned one of the two booklets. Separate
booklets – matching the order of the ads –
contained the questions, so that
participants could fill out the questionnaire
while inspecting the ads. Before
proceeding, participants were asked to list
their thoughts, in order to prevent
knowledge about the questions that were
going to be asked affecting their responses.
After having listed their thoughts,
participants were asked to interpret the first
ad and indicate their degree of
appreciation. Next, the same questions
were asked about the other ads. The
questionnaire concluded with the NfC
items. Different questions were printed on
different pages and participants were
instructed when to turn the page, thus
controlling the amount of time they spent
on each of the questions. The main reason
for this was to ensure that all participants
finished the questionnaire in approximately
the same time and to prevent turmoil in
class. Participants were given two minutes
to list their thoughts, and another two
minutes to generate an interpretation.
Manipulation check
The results show that the messages in the
ads with explanatory headlines matched
the interpretations most frequently
mentioned by participants in the open-ad
conditions. In this sense, our ads with
explanatory headlines can be considered as
closed. In addition, the manipulation
seemed valid because, following Mick and
McQuarry (1996), the open-ad conditions
elicited more different interpretations than
the closed conditions. However, the
manipulation check showed that the open
Mercedes-ad did not yield more different
interpretations than the closed ad,
suggesting that – even without an
explanatory headline – the open Mercedes-
ad directed the participants to a specific
interpretation as much as the closed ad did.
In other words, the interpretation of the
open Mercedes-ad was relatively easy and
Effects of openness
Table 1 presents the averages of the three
measures of appreciation for each of the
three brands for both open and closed
conditions. There were no significant
differences in appreciation between the
open and closed versions of the Mercedes
ads, but for the Volkswagen and Volvo
ads, all three measures showed
significantly more appreciation for the
closed version (see Table 1).
Effects of Need for Cognition
Contrary to our expectation that
participants high in NfC spend more time
and effort trying to find an interpretation
and would therefore be more likely to find
one, we found that they were slightly less
likely (not significant) to find an
interpretation, compared to those low in
NfC. Also contrary to our expectation,
participants high in NfC did not appreciate
the effort needed to interpret open ads.
Analysis of variance with or without NfC
as a covariate did not alter the preference
of our participants for closed ads. If
anything, participants high in NfC
appreciated the open ads less than those
low in NfC.
Effects of comprehension
We performed t-tests to investigate the
effects of comprehension on ad
appreciation. Table 2 shows the average
appreciations of the participants for each
level of understanding ('full', 'doubtful' and
'none') for all three brands and for both the
open and the closed conditions.
Almost without exception, the ads were
appreciated least when participants could
not come up with an interpretation, and
highest when participants arrived at a
satisfactory interpretation. Doubtful
answers scored in between: apparently
these interpretations were not quite
satisfactory to the participants either. All
differences between full understanding and
the two lower levels of understanding
combined are significant for both the open
and the closed conditions of the Volvo and
Volkswagen ads, except for the thought-
listing measure regarding the open ad for
Volvo (p = .09). These results underscore
the importance of understanding for ad
appreciation. Compared to the results for
all participants, the differences in
appreciation of the open and the closed ads
are somewhat smaller for participants with
‘full’ understanding. Nevertheless, t-tests
reveal that these differences are still
significant for both Volkswagen and
Volvo, except for the thought-listing
measure for Volkswagen. In sum, closed
ads are appreciated more than open ads.
There is an obvious hint in Table 2 why
this might be so. The numbers of
participants not arriving at a (satisfactory)
interpretation indicate that the open
Mercedes ad was the easiest to understand
and the open Volvo ad the hardest.
Correspondingly, the differences between
the open and the closed conditions are
smallest for the Mercedes ad and largest
for the Volvo ad, which can be seen in all
three measures of ad appreciation in both
Table 1 and Table 2. This strongly
suggests that the disadvantage that open
ads have is not only related to finding a
(satisfactory) interpretation, but even more
- as implied by Phillips’s results (2000) -
the ease with which such an interpretation
is arrived at.
We started this article with the observation
that open ads have become increasingly
common in the the last decades. Evidently,
advertising practitioners expect them to
have advantages over traditional, more
closed ads. One of the reasons for such an
advantage might be that consumers
appreciate open ads more, as suggested by
McQuarrie and Mick (1999), because they
enjoy extracting the meaning from open
ads. Contrary to this line of reasoning,
Phillips (2000) found that closed ads are
liked better than open ads, and that the
effects of open versus closed ads are
mediated by their ease of interpretation.
Closed ads are easier to interpret and are
therefore more appreciated. The aim of this
study was to determine whether Phillips'
(2000) conclusion that open ads are liked
less than closed ads still holds when the
open ads are presented in optimal
conditions: when the participants are
motivated and capable, when NfC is high,
and when the analyses are restricted to
participants who actually succeed in
finding a (plausible) interpretation. By
investigating car ads among students in the
automobile branch, we ensured high levels
of motivation and ability.
Despite these optimal conditions, we must
conclude that open ads are liked less
because they are harder to understand.
When they are not harder to understand,
differences in appreciation disappear. The
finding that consumers prefer closed ads
seems to be robust. T-tests for all
participants showed a significant
preference for closed ads for all three
measures of ad appreciation for two of our
three test ads. Selecting motivated
participants who are able to interpret the
ads is apparently not enough to reverse or
moderate Phillips’s finding that closed ads
are appreciated more: closed ads are still
liked better. Unexpectedly, there was no
association between NfC and the
differential appreciation of open and closed
ads, or between NfC and the likelihood of
finding an interpretation. Apparently,
closed ads are preferred even by those who
– according to the NfC measure – enjoy
the process of unravelling such ads. A
plausible explanation might be that the
selection of highly motivated subjects
might have overshadowed the potential
effects of different levels of NfC. Perhaps,
future research should use participants who
are members of the target group of the
advertised products (for instance, car ads
among car owners or people looking for a
new car), but who are not as motivated as
the respondents in this study. Finally,
although ad comprehension had a clear
impact on ad appreciation, restricting the t-
tests to participants who found a
satisfactory interpretation did not change
the results significantly. For both
Volkswagen and Volvo, the closed ads
were still liked significantly more, mainly
because they were easier to understand. In
sum, our search for circumstances under
which the use of open ads might be
beneficial was not successful, and Phillips’
conclusion that consumers appreciate
closed ads more than open ads was
supported. Our study corroborates Phillips’
finding that the effects of open and closed
ads on appreciation of the ads are mediated
by the ease with which the ads are
One might wonder if the open headline of
Volvo, which was formulated differently
from the open headlines of the
Volkswagen and Mercedes ads, accounts,
at least in part, for the difference in
appreciation between the open and closed
Volvo ads. However, the open headline in
the open Volvo ad ("Drive Volvo") is a
little more directive than the open headline
in the Volkswagen and Mercedes ad
("Volkswagen is there" and "Mercedes is
there"). In view of this, we would have
expected a relatively minor difference in
appreciation between the open and closed
versions of the Volvo ad. On the contrary,
the differences remained significant. So,
the different headline of the open version
of the Volvo ad is not responsible for
differences in appreciation which were
There are some limitations to the study
presented here. A rather serious limitation
concerns the manipulation of our test ads
to create open and closed conditions. As
we described, the same image was used in
both versions; ads were closed by adding
an explanatory headline. Of course, the
open ads could have been created by
leaving out the headline altogether.
However, a previous study (Gisbergen and
Ketelaar 2003) showed that the presence or
absence of a headline affects the amount
and the direction of attention for the ad,
and we decided to add a non-explanatory
headline in order to create conditions as
comparable as possible. In hindsight – and
confirmed by an inspection of the
interpretations that were offered - this
manipulation may have caused some
participants to search for a non-existent
correspondence between image and
headline in the open versions. Because a
headline usually contains a certain clue
about the ad's message, the non-
explanatory headline may have had a
negative effect on ad appreciation. A future
study should use a version without a
headline in order to estimate the size of
this problem. Furthermore, the choice of
participants may have affected the results.
The students of the car academy may have
judged the car ads from the perspective of
potential customers.Their negative
evaluation of open ads could be because
they judge these ads as inappropriate for
communicating with customers, rather than
an expression of their personal like or
dislike. And finally, we did not incorporate
a measure to determine the ease with
which participants interpreted the ad. That
might have provided a more objective
measure of 'ease of comprehension' than
relying on judges to determine the
plausibility of participants' interpretations.
Apparently, consumers prefer ads to be
direct and easily digestible and do not
respond very well to advertisements whose
messages take time and energy to unravel.
Basically, consumers do not seem to like
open ads unless these open ads are so easy
to interpret that they can hardly be
described as open any more. Nevertheless,
the effectiveness of open ads deserves
further study.
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Figure 1
Advertisement Mercedes Benz
Figure 2
Advertisement Volkswagen
Figure 3
Advertisement Volvo
... This frustration may lead to a relatively unfavourable attitude towards the ad (cf. Ketelaar, Van Gisbergen & Bosman 2004, Van Mulken et al. 2005). The research question and hypotheses were formulated as follows: RQ1: To what extent do attitudes differ towards advertisements without rhetorical figures, advertisements with schemes and advertisements with tropes? ...
... McQuarrie & Mick 1999, 2003b) or less (cf. e.g., Ketelaar, Van Gisbergen & Bosman 2004, Van Mulken, Van Enschot & Hoeken 2005, Phillips 2000) than ads with relatively simple schemes. The results of the experiment indicate that a cognitive challenge may not be appreciated, even when an advertisement has been understood (cf. ...
... The results of the experiment indicate that a cognitive challenge may not be appreciated, even when an advertisement has been understood (cf. Ketelaar, Van Gisbergen & Bosman 2004, Van Mulken, Van Enschot & Hoeken 2005). Higher perceived complexity was not found to be related to a more favourable attitude towards the ad when the receiver had the given message in mind. ...
Full-text available
Rhetorical figures can be effective means in the persuasion process. Traditionally, rhetorical figures are subdivided into schemes (i.e., superficial deviations such as rhyme) and tropes (i.e., meaningful deviations such as metaphors and puns). This paper reports of an experiment and interviews on the effects of verbal and visual schemes and tropes (versus non-rhetorical figures) in magazine advertisements on the attitude towards the ad. A taxonomy consisting of 9 categories (verbal versus visual non-rhetorical figures, schemes, and tropes) was used, and 4 ads per category (36 in total) were each presented to 79 participants (non-students). The results showed, amongst others, that the attitude towards ads with visual tropes was higher than towards ads without rhetorical figures. If and how the attitude towards ads with tropes differs from the attitude towards ads with schemes remains to be investigated.
... Advertenties met tropen zouden, net als advertenties zonder retorische vormen, lager gewaardeerd kunnen worden dan advertenties met schema's, omdat tropen relatief vaak niet begrepen worden of omdat hun cognitieve uitdaging überhaupt niet gewaardeerd wordt (cf. bijvoorbeeld Ketelaar et al. 2004, Phillips 2000[1987], p.290-292). Eventuele retorische vormen in merknamen en de body copy worden buiten beschouwing gelaten. ...
... This frustration may lead to a relatively unfavourable attitude towards the ad (cf. Ketelaar, Van Gisbergen & Bosman 2004). In the existing literature, the effects of schemes and tropes on perceived complexity and the attitude towards the ad remain unclear. ...
... By doing so, they change the meaning of the original version to be understood by Indonesian viewers. This strategy is well-known as ''cultural substitution'' where the text from a foreign linguistic source is modified into local culture to adjust to the target audience (Heylen, 1993). ...
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Keywords: adaptation, context, culture, meme, US-based image meme DOI: /ijeltal.v6i2.1046 This present study aims to examine the procedure of adaptation in four selected US-based image memes adapted to the Indonesian context. Four US-based image memes and their Indonesian adaptation were selected as the source of data. They were purposively chosen from some Indonesian memes' websites and the US-based image memes. This study adopts Bastin's theory of adaptation as the theoretical framework to analyze the adaptation procedure used by the Indonesian content creators in adapting the US-based image memes. The analysis of this descriptive qualitative study reveals that from the seven modes of Bastin's adaption, the Indonesian content creators used the sixth procedure, situational or cultural adequacy for the adaptation of the US-based image memes to the Indonesian context. This study concludes that the four selected US-based image memes under the present study have been localized by using Bahasa Indonesia to accommodate the cultural transfer that suits the Indonesian cultural settings. Secondly, Bahasa Indonesia used in the memes assigns a new cultural meaning that is socially understood by Indonesian memetic society. Lastly, this study is hoped to shed a light on the pedagogical field, proposing that cultural awareness is significant in translation to bridge the cultural transfer from the source text to the new target readers.
... The chapter proceeds with two experiments (Experiments 4 and 5) that focus on the effects of openness on interpretation and attitude. An adaptation of Experiment 4 appeared as a bookchapter in Neijens, Hess, van den Putte, and Smit (Ketelaar, Van Gisbergen, & Bosman, 2004). In three of these experiments ...
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Nowadays, magazines seem to abound with ads containing messages that are vague and not straightforward. We refer to these ads as open ads. Open ads do not explicitly tell consumers why they should buy the advertised product. Apparently ad-makers expect consumers to be motivated enough to figure out the intended interpretations by themselves. The central characteristic of open ads is their low level of guidance towards a certain intended interpretation. Media analysts have speculated about an increase in openness, but to date this trend has not been investigated for magazine ads. It has been argued that openness increases attention and recall, but this has never been validated. Although previous research has shown positive effects of openness on the attitude towards the ad, negative effects have also been found. Finally, research has shown positive as well as negative effects of ad-openness on interpretation. This study has sought to clarify the concept of openness in advertising, to examine the presence of openness in ads, and to determine the effect of openness on consumers’ attention, recall, interpretation, and attitude towards the ad (Aad). Our first research objective was to clarify the concept of openness in the context of advertising. In Chapter 1 we discuss the term openness. In semiotics, openness is extensively described by Eco (1979), who uses the term ‘openness’ to differentiate between various types of texts. Eco defines open texts as those that are susceptible to different interpretations. He views openness not as a feature of a particular text, but rather as the result of an interactive process between text and reader. Because of the apparent usefulness of the concept of openness, several advertising researchers have transferred this concept from semiotics to advertising. Although this transfer has led to some terminological confusion, all authors have used the concept of openness to refer to the amount of guidance towards the intended message of the ad. Though no ad is completely open or completely closed, ads can differ in their amount of openness or guidance towards a certain interpretation: Openness is a continuum. Researchers use terms such as ‘ambiguous ads’, ‘indirect ads’, ‘abstract ads’, ‘undercoded ads’ and ‘complex ads’ to denote ads that we would describe as open. Although not synonymous, these terms are all highly related to the concept of openness because they imply less guidance towards an intended message. This means that the effects of openness in advertising have actually been more broadly studied than one would believe if one only considers studies that explicitly refer to openness. These related studies helped us to formulate certain characteristics that render an ad more open: presence of a prominent visual, presence of rhetorical figures, absence of the product and of verbal anchoring, and a low level of brand anchoring. By analyzing recurring patterns in a large number of open ads collected over a period of five years, we distinguish four categories of open ads: aesthetic ads, issue ads, story ads, and riddle ads. Our second research objective was to determine whether openness in advertising has increased over time, across different product categories and in different magazines. If openness in ads has indeed increased, the importance of research into the effects of openness increases as well. Therefore, in Chapter 2 we use content analysis to determine whether there really has been a trend towards more openness in advertising. We conducted content analysis on 768 ads drawn from several editions of four Dutch magazine titles (Elsevier, Panorama, Margriet, and Autovisie), published in 1980, 1990 and 2000, for five different product types (alcohol, tobacco, appearance, care, and cars). The results show that during the past decades ads have become more open, although the increase diminished between 1990 and 2000. No differences were found between magazines, or between product categories. Our final research goal was to determine the effects of openness on consumers. In Chapter 3 we discuss possible benefits and drawbacks of open ads, building on previous advertising research that incorporated ads that can be considered as open. First, openness seems to be a device for ad-makers to retain attention and stimulate recall. Researchers view attention as an important condition for an ad to be effective. Almost every advertising model stresses the importance of attention. When an ad does not retain attention, no effect can be expected on recall or on buying intentions or behavior. On the positive side, open ads may maintain consumers’ attention for several reasons: (1) open ads are experienced as relatively difficult to interpret; (2) openness is experienced as relatively incongruent with expectations of advertising; (3) openness increases uncertainty about the accuracy of the created interpretation; and (4) openness makes consumers pay attention to the brand, because they need to know about it to be able to create an interpretation. However, on the negative side, openness may decrease attention because consumers are likely to avoid investing cognitive effort in ads. It is also possible that openness does not yield a beneficial or detrimental effect on attention, because consumers are not motivated to devote attention to ads in general, as they know they are dealing with persuasive messages. The arguments for or against a positive effect of openness on attention also apply to the effect of openness on recall. Second, we want to establish how openness affects interpretation. Ad-makers want consumers to interpret ads a certain way. However, consumers might interpret open ads differently than they were intended because they have to create an interpretation themselves, using their specific knowledge about ads, brands and products. Or they might not be able to interpret open ads at all because they are too difficult to understand. On the positive side, when consumers elaborate more on open ads, there is a chance that they will create more alternative interpretations. We argue that when alternative interpretations are created across consumers, a persuasive advantage may arise because the same ad appeals to a variety of consumers. The absence of guidance in open ads leaves space and opportunity for consumers to create interpretations based on their individual knowledge about ads in general, the advertised product, and the brand. Third, openness might affect the attitude towards the ad (Aad). A positive Aad might affect subsequent advertising effects, such as the attitude towards the brand and purchase intention. Openness in ads may lead to a relatively positive Aad (1) when consumers experience pleasure in searching for an interpretation, (2) when consumers consider finding a plausible interpretation as a reward, (3) when consumers experience openness as pleasantly incongruent with their expectations of advertising, (4) when consumers view openness as an intelligent form of communication that they appreciate, and (5) when openness decreases counter argumentation. However, negative effects of openness on Aad are equally plausible. A negative effect of openness on Aad is likely (1) when consumers experience difficulty creating an interpretation, (2) when consumers are not able to create an interpretation, and (3) when consumers are uncertain whether the created interpretation is the one intended by the ad-maker. Finally, the individual consumer’s need for cognition might interact with the effect of openness on attention, recall, interpretation, and Aad. Need for cognition refers to the tendency to engage in and derive pleasure from effortful cognitive activities. Because consumers have to spend more energy to interpret an open ad than a closed one, we expect that openness might have different effects on consumers with different degrees of need for cognition. Chapter 4 reports five experiments in which we investigated the effects of openness in ads on consumers and established whether need for cognition influences those effects. Table 5.1 contains a summary of our main findings. In Experiment 1 we investigated whether open ads command more attention than their closed counterparts. In addition, we measured whether openness increases consumers’ attention to the brand. The typical forced exposure paradigm used in laboratory experiments does not seem to provide a very suitable test of any of our contentions about openness and attention. We therefore simulated natural viewing conditions by using infrared eye-tracking equipment from a Dutch company called Verify. We measured the attention of 216 participants who browsed through a general audience magazine (HP De Tijd) containing three test ads: two car ads and a whiskey ad. For each ad we made two conditions: one condition without a headline and another condition with a headline that provided the reader moderate guidance towards the intended interpretation. At first sight, the results reveal that participants spend significantly less viewing time on ads and brands when openness increases. Apparently, less guidance towards an obvious interpretation does not increase attention towards the ad and brand. However, the negative effect of openness on attention may be due to the extra element in the closed conditions: the headline. Participants may have spent more time looking at the closed conditions because of the additional time required to read the headline. Headlines require reading time, whereas open ads without headlines are instantly ‘read’. For this reason, we conducted a second experiment in which we determined the effect of openness on attention to ads that do not differ in amount of verbal copy. Experiment 2 replicated Experiment 1 and extended it by establishing the effect of openness on recall of the ad and the advertised product, and exploring whether consumers’ need for cognition plays a role in the effect of openness on attention to, and recall of, the ad and its elements. This study addresses the possibility that the presence of headlines in Experiment 1 might have been responsible for the fact that the closed ads received more attention than the open ones. Therefore, Experiment 2 had four conditions (instead of two) for each of the four selected car ads. We manipulated the level of openness in two ways. First, we inserted headlines that differed in the amount of verbal anchoring, creating low and moderate verbal-guidance conditions. Second, we altered the visuals, creating a low and a moderate visual-guidance condition. A total of 425 participants, representative of the Dutch population, participated in the study. We used the same eye-tracking device to measure attention as in Experiment 1, and added an indirect recall task in which participants had to identify the ad and the product when pixilated images of the ads were shown. These pixilated images of the ad make color, pictorial, logo and verbal copy vaguely recognizable but not readable. The results reveal no differences in attention between open and closed ads for the ads themselves and for the advertised brands. Attention duration is rather short for open ads, as well as for closed ads. Possibly, consumers do not want to pay attention to ads in general, because of their persuasive intention. We found that participants recall the advertised products better in open ads than in closed ones, possibly because they have to identify the product in order to be able to plausibly interpret the open ads. There is no interaction effect of need for cognition and openness on attention and recall, and no main effect of need for cognition. In Experiment 3 consumers’ attention was measured for a large number of open (n = 99) and closed car ads (n = 97) in order to generalize the findings of Experiment 2. Each of these ads was tested among 114 participants, within a single exposure design that involving two magazines (HP De Tijd and Elsevier), each of which contained several articles and numerous filler ads. These car ads were not systematically manipulated as in Experiments 1 and 2, but selected from the Verify database. This study does not show any advantage of openness on attention, confirming the findings of Experiment 2. Consumers looked at single page ads for approximately 2.5 seconds on average and at double page ads for 4.5 seconds on average. Considering the relatively short viewing time, consumers are apparently not motivated to devote attention to ads. This might be due to the persuasive intention of ads in general. In Experiment 4 we determined whether openness influences consumers’ ability to create an interpretation, to create the intended interpretation, and to create alternative interpretations besides the intended one. In addition, we measured their Aad. As the findings from the first three experiments suggest a reduced chance of finding positive effects of openness on interpretation and Aad, in Experiment 4 the effects of openness were measured under conditions relatively favorable for processing openness in ads. First year male students of the Institute for the Car Branch and Management (IVA) in Driebergen, The Netherlands, participated in the experiment (N = 148), and were exposed to car-ads. In comparison with most consumers, they are very interested in cars and highly able to interpret car ads. Open and closed conditions were created for three car ads by adding headlines that differed in the amount of guidance towards an interpretation. Despite the beneficial circumstances for finding a positive effect of ad-openness, the results reveal a negative effect of openness on interpretation and Aad, regardless of consumers’ need for cognition. The negative effect of openness on Aad is mainly related to the difficulty participants experience interpreting the ads, and their inability to create any interpretation. Participants with a high need for cognition do not differ from those with a low need for cognition in their ability to interpret open ads and their attitude towards open ads. No significant interaction effect is found of need for cognition and openness on Aad, and no main effect of need for cognition. Finally, to strengthen our conclusions and generalize earlier findings, we performed a fifth experiment into the effects of advertising openness on interpretation and Aad. We re-examined the negative effects of openness found in Experiment 4, by (a) selecting a research population more representative of the Dutch population, (b) manipulating openness in a different way, and (c) investigating a broader range of openness. We again studied how need for cognition influences consumers’ ability to create an interpretation of open ads, and their Aad Additionally, we determined the attitude towards the brand (Abrand). We measured Aad using an average grade point and an attitude scale, and by means of a non-verbal instrument called PrEmo which determines positive as well as negative emotions. PrEmo was made available to us by a Dutch company called TNS NIPO. We selected four car ads and two ads for mobile phones, for which we created three conditions with different amounts of anchoring: an ad without a headline, with a moderately guiding headline, and one with a highly guiding headline. We confirmed the results of Experiment 4, finding a negative effect of openness on the ability to create an interpretation, to reach the intended interpretation, and on Aad. Once again, the negative effect of openness on Aad is related to the difficulty participants experience creating an interpretation, but also to their inability to interpret open ads, and their uncertainty about the correctness of their interpretation. Adding to these negative findings, we found a negative effect of openness on Abrand. We once again found that need for cognition does not mediate the effects of openness on (a) Aad and (b) the ability to interpret open ads. We found no interaction effect of need for cognition and openness on Aad, and no main effect of need for cognition. In Chapter 5, we present our general conclusions, discuss the limitations of our studies, consider the theoretical and practical implications of our findings, and formulate recommendations for future research. We can conclude that openness provides no benefits for advertisers. None of the experiments indicates obvious positive effects of openness in ads on attention. In fact, it becomes clear that openness has no effect on consumers’ attention. Although openness does not affect ad recall, we did find a minor, positive influence of openness on product recall. On the other hand, openness unmistakably has negative effects on consumers’ interpretation and their Aad; openness decreases the number of consumers that are able to create the intended interpretation or any interpretation at all, and lowers consumers’ Aad and Abrand. The negative effects of openness on consumers’ Aad are mainly related to the difficulty that consumers experience when they interpret ads. Finally, none of our experiments reveals an effect of need for cognition, which raises the question whether need for cognition is important when studying the effects of openness in an advertising context. We can identify five limitations of our studies. The first concerns the situation in which our experiments took place. Since the ads were processed under conditions of high task involvement, this may have mediated the effects of openness on Aad and interpretation. The second limitation is that participants were exposed to the ads only once, whereas in real-life consumers are confronted with the same ads over and over. The third limitation concerns the selection of the experimental ads. Since all the relatively open ads included in our studies belong to the category of the open ‘riddle ad’, this may limit the generalizability of our conclusions. This does not apply to Study 3, where we determined the effects of a large number and large variety of open and closed ads on attention. Fourth, the way we manipulated openness in our experiments may limit the generalizability of our findings. Changing the amount of verbal anchoring means that we only investigated the effects of openness for a relatively small part of the continuum of openness. Finally, all of our experiments were conducted on Dutch (western) consumers, so our conclusions may only apply to consumers with a western cultural background. ‘Openness’ is a term that represents a common dimension of the various terms used in related studies. Though these terms appear at first sight to refer to different types of ads, this common dimension of ‘openness’ shows that they are in fact closely related to each other. Openness pulls these terms together via the common dimension of degree of guidance. Based on the theoretical notions of Eco (1979), openness is especially suited for advertising research because openness is defined in terms of guidance towards a certain interpretation. After all, persuading consumers to interpret ads in a certain way is the very goal of persuasive communication. Finally, openness has proved to be a suitable concept to be operationalized for empirical research, because consumers are able to determine an ad’s level of openness. Our findings have one obvious implication for ad-makers. It seems clear that ad-makers need to provide guidance towards the intended interpretation of magazine ads. Ads always benefit from verbal anchoring, regardless of whether the ads are relatively easy or difficult to interpret. As shown in our studies, ad-makers can increase guidance by inserting headlines that lead consumers towards a certain interpretation of the ad and its pictorial. In addition to verbal guidance, ad-makers have several other means to increase guidance in open ads. Ad-makers can increase the amount of guidance by repeating open ads, and by embedding open ads in ad campaigns. The open strategy seems most suited for advertising strong brands. Considering its clear negative effects and the large amounts of money involved in the advertising business, an open ad-strategy seems risky. However, it is premature to conclude that the open strategy is unable to communicate the benefits of products and services under all circumstances. We have identified some circumstances from which the open strategy might benefit, although further empirical research is necessary to determine the actual benefits.
... Those information signals and content were shown to be influential both in persuading and informing, since there was no persuasion without relevant information (Laband, 1989). The following list of categorization studies were undertaken to analyze informational content: the evolution of the interplay between executional tactics versus information (Pollay, 1985); the cross-cultural perspective of informational content and emotional appeals in print ads (Biswas, Olsen, & Carlet, 1992;Graham, Kamins, & Oetomo, 1993); the varying nature and intensity of attributes/claims informativeness according to the industry (Healey & Kassarjian, 1983); an analysis of the trend toward(s) less verbal and more visual/open ads (Ketelaar, Van Gisbergen, & Bosman, 2004); the cross-cultural aspects of the visual forms used in print advertising (Bu, Kim, & Lee, 2009). The inclusion of some symbolic territory identity claims has also deserved content analysis. ...
... In addition, because of the increased cognitive effort that consumers spend on these ads when searching for an interpretation, they may devote more attention to the ads, have better retention, and they may not engage in counter argumentation so readily (Berger 2001;Leiss, Kline and Jhally 1990;McQuarrie and Mick 1992;Phillips 2000). However, these claims about the effects of open advertisements have hardly been addressed in empirical research (Dingena 1994;Ketelaar, Gisbergen and Bosman 2004;McQuarrie and Mick 1992;Mick and Politi 1989;Phillips 2000). Considering the overall trend towards openness in ads, as shown in this study, these ads should not be overlooked in future research. ...
... Being able to come up with a meaningful interpretation may provide the audience with the type of selfcongratulatory thoughts hypothesized by Tanaka (1992Tanaka ( , 1994, which may result in a positive evaluation of the message. Several studies have indeed shown that the extent to which people appreciate tropes depends on whether they are capable of providing a meaningful interpretation of this deviation (Ketelaar, Van Gisbergen, & Bosman, 2004;Lee & Mason, 1999;McQuarrie & Mick, 1999;Phillips, 2000;Van Mulken, Van Enschot, & Hoeken, 2005a, 2005bVan Enschot et al., 2008). We use the label ''meaningful interpretation'' instead of ''intended interpretation'' because people appreciate tropes more if they are satisfied with their interpretation even if this interpretation deviates from the one intended by the message designer (Van Mulken et al., 2005a, 2005b. ...
The use of tropes (e.g., metaphors, ellipsis) in messages from health mass media campaigns may spark conversations. Tropes require additional cognitive elaboration to arrive at the intended interpretation, thereby providing the audience with "the pleasure of text." This characteristic makes them useful for conversations in which ads are used to demonstrate one's interpretation abilities or to strengthen group identity through a shared appreciation of ads. Tropes can thus stimulate people to think and talk about information they might otherwise ignore. As a result, this information is primed, increasing the chance that it will influence relevant behavior. At the same time, the use of tropes may have undesirable side effects, such as yielding incomprehension or misunderstanding of the message's meaning.
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users, and thereby generating revenue. Industries that have been traditionally “offline”, i.e. transportation have also been deeply disrupted and transformed by the evolution of consumer-facing internet services, be it incumbents or be it beginners/new entrants. The following paper outlines the most fundamental growth concepts governing the development of a successful consumer internet business. The objective of the paper is to touch upon two most important pillars of building a successful consumer internet business - User Acquisition and Retention (monetization strategy) and Accounting (measurement strategy). Platformization - which is crucial for a company to scale, is outside the scope of this paper. Each of these pillars are crucial as the business evolves through different growth stages. Risk exposure concepts such as Diversification are outside the scope of this paper.Any consumer-facing business today typically uses the internet as part of its core strategy of acquiring and retaining
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The mental images generated by advertisements and commercial ads have an effect both on the memory and on eliciting responses from the public. A methodology has been used that analyzes the content of the words involved in the verbal written description of the mental images evoked through a free recall task. The findings confirm that the remembrance of the mental images in the subjects varies according to the type of stimulus presented: image, word, sound. In the same manner, a multivariate analysis of the variance also ascribes the differences to the vividness of the mental capacity of the subjects. Las imágenes mentales que generan los anuncios tienen efectos, tanto en el recuerdo como en la evocación de respuestas en los públicos. Se ha utilizado una metodología de análisis de contenido de las palabras que intervienen en la descripción verbal escrita de las imágenes mentales evocadas a través de una tarea de recuerdo libre. Los resultados confirman que el recuerdo de la imagen mental varía en los sujetos según la modalidad de presentación del estímulo: imagen, palabra, sonido. Y un análisis multivariable de la varianza atribuye las diferencias, también, a la capacidad de viveza de imagen mental de los sujetos.
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Developed and validated the Need for Cognition Scale (NCS). In Study 1, a pool of items was administered to 96 faculty members (high-need-for-cognition group) and assembly line workers (low-need-for-cognition group). Ambiguity, irrelevance, and internal consistency were used to select items for subsequent studies. Factor analysis yielded one major factor. In Study 2, the NCS and the Group Embedded Figures Test were administered to 419 undergraduates to validate the factor structure and to determine whether the NCS tapped a construct distinct from test anxiety and cognitive style. The factor structure was replicated, and responses to the NCS were weakly related to cognitive style and unrelated to test anxiety. In Study 3, 104 undergraduates completed the NCS, the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale, and a dogmatism scale. Results indicate that need for cognition was related weakly and negatively to being closeminded, unrelated to social desirability, and positively correlated with general intelligence. Study 4 (97 undergraduates) furnished evidence of the predictive validity of the NCS. (32 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
The qualitative study reported is based on a new conceptualization that characterizes complex advertising images as figures of rhetoric from which consumers infer advertising messages. Informants interpreted the meanings of six ads containing pictorial metaphors. The interpretations indicated that shared strong implicatures as well as multiple weak implicatures were drawn from images in the ads. In general, consumers' interpretations matched the intentions of the ads' producers. Informant responses also suggested that consumers use cultural, product, and advertising knowledge to infer meaning from advertising images.
In this article the usefulness of the Affinity for Advertising concept is investigated by means of three questions: "What is Affinity for Advertising?"; "To what extent do people differ in their Affinity for Advertising in different media?"; and "Do people who differ in Affinity for Advertising also differ in their behavioral reactions toward advertising?" A positive answer to the latter question is of course essential, because only then could Affinity for Advertising be a useful concept for media planners. Based on a nationwide survey in the Netherlands (n = 1,065), it is concluded that Affinity for Advertising is a promising concept for segmenting the audience within the context of media planning.
Although the ambivalence of public attitudes to advertising is often acknowledged, it has been undertheorized. This paper begins with an overview of prior research on the structure of attitudes to advertising, and a case is made for ambivalence as a central characteristic. It is also argued that research on attitudes to advertising has generally focused on the content of attitudes at the expense of contextual factors, yet consumers do not relate to advertising in isolation from their experiences of popular culture, postmodernism and advertising literacy. Ambivalence in consumer attitudes to advertising is revisited by considering three sets of tensions which are related to these contextual factors. The paper concludes by considering the implications for advertising production and consumption in postmodern times.
This study explores the relationship between style and persuasion, and how audiences become involved with a message long enough to acknowledge and cognitively process it. Using a melding of cultural studies and cognitive processing as a theoretical backdrop, and inspired by photo-documentary advertising—a relatively new genre of ads encoded with ambiguity —this study posits that the use of ambiguity in ads invites polysemous, or multiple readings, which tend to involve audiences through pleasure and ambiguity resolution. Findings from a consumer survey support this position and suggest that polysemy may not only involve an audience, but may enhance memorability for ads in this genre.
Discusses 2 studies of the individual tendency to engage in and enjoy thinking—need for cognition (NFC). The external and moderating effect of NFC was analyzed in the context of reasoned action, and the effect of NFC on acquiring and desiring new information about an issue was explored. The moderating effect of NFC on reasoned action was found to be smaller than expected, but the effect on wanting and obtaining information was shown to be considerable. (English abstract) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
This classic text surveys a number of different theoretical approaches to the related phenomena of attitude and belief change. These theories are grouped into seven major approaches, each presented and evaluated in a separate chapter. Each contributes in an important way to a complete understanding of the persuasion process. Appropriate for both upper level undergraduates and graduates in the social sciences.
Based on Mandler's theory of schema organization and previous visual attention research, we formulate and test hypotheses about the impact of ad familiarity and ad originality on attention and memory for print advertisements. To that end, one hundred and nineteen consumers browsed through two consumer magazines containing 68 print advertisements. Attention to the ads and their brand, picture and text components was assessed through infrared eye tracking. Trained judges rated the ads independently for familiarity and originality. In support of the hypotheses we find a sharp attention decline with ad familiarity, which is largely due to a reduction in attention to text. Originality of ad execution serves as a buffer against the negative influence of ad familiarity on attention, but only for the brand and picture components. The reduction of attention to the text is even larger for original than for unoriginal ads. Moreover, over and above their indirect influence through visual attention patterns, ad familiarity, ad originality and their interaction had a direct influence on brand memory.