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The Effects of 3D Billboards on Consumers’ Attention and Awareness

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The current study tests 6 basic hypotheses in relation to 3D (three-dimensioned) execution element in a billboard and its effectiveness, using 2 experimental approaches. In study 1 the “exposure time” seems to be more than enough for subjects to process the advertising stimuli. Furthermore, it is examined how consumers’ memory for 3D billboards is affected by advertising clutter. Study 2 replicates and extends the results of study 1, simulating the “market in motion”, provided that the given time is limited. The findings indicate that 3D billboards are more effective than traditional ones, since they achieve greater attention, ad recall and ad recognition. The presence of a 3D execution element increases brand name (study1 and 2) and brand package recognition (study 1) but does not increase the level of brand recall. The findings in study 1 support that 3D execution element performs better than a conventional one, when the target ad is placed among competitive ads.
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JOURNAL OF CUSTOMER BEHAVIOUR, 2016, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp.153-172
http://dx.doi.org/10.1362/147539216X14594362873730
ISSN1475-3928 print /ISSN1477-6421 online © Westburn Publishers Ltd.
Measuring the impact of competitive advertising
environment and ad-exposure time on
3D posters’ effectiveness
Leonidas Hatzithomas, University of Macedonia, Greece*
Athina Y. Zotou, Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece
Polyxeni (Jenny) Palla, Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus
Abstract The present study focuses on the impact of competitive advertising
environment and ad-exposure time on the effectiveness of 3D posters. A 3D
poster is regarded as a traditional advertising poster that contains an additional
three-dimensional element (e.g., paper-crafts, 3D installations or real objects).
Two experiments indicated that 3D posters enhance consumers’ attention to
the ad and increase ad (unaided and aided) recall. Experiment 1 revealed the
moderating role of competitive advertising in the relationships between 3D
posters’ design, attention to the ad, and ad (unaided and aided) recall. 3D posters
seem to enhance attention and ad recall in the presence, rather than absence,
of competing ads. Experiment 2 highlighted that these positive effects are
maintained even when consumers have less opportunity to process the posters.
The study provides empirical evidence of the way that consumers process 3D
posters and discusses significant managerial implications.
Keywords 3D posters, Advertising effectiveness, Competitive advertising
environment, Exposure time, Experimental design
*Correspondence details and biographies for the authors are located at the end of the article.
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INTRODUCTION
Out-of-home advertising is the oldest mass communication medium (Agnew, 1985;
Henderson & Landau, 1980; Wilson, 1952). According to the Outdoor Advertising
Association of America’s (OAAA, 2015a) definition, out-of-home media are “all media
formats specifically intended to reach consumers outside the home”. The importance
of out-of-home advertising is highlighted by the growing annual expenditures in such
activities (OAAA, 2015b). Despite the increasing trend in out-of home advertising,
only a few studies (Taylor, Franke, & Bang, 2006; van Meurs & Aristoff, 2009; van
Reijmersdal, 2011; Wilson & Till, 2011) have looked into potential approaches for
improved results in out-of-home media (Taylor, 2012).
Poster advertising in particular is a relatively under-investigated topic. Scarce
research on the topic suggests that the inclusion of both new product information
and brand name in the copy text or in the headline of the poster speeds up brand
recognition (van Meurs & Aristof, 2009). Moreover, the use of shock in poster
advertising enhances consumers’ attention to the ad and raises ad awareness (recall
and recognition, Dahl, Frankenberger, & Manchanda, 2003). Also, an historical
approach to poster advertising indicated the pivotal role of posters in the success of
US governmental World War II advertising campaigns (Witkowski, 2003). Although,
all the aforementioned studies shed light on some very important issues regarding
the effectiveness of poster advertising, they concentrate on two-dimensional posters,
leaving three-dimensional posters unexplored.
In the context of the present study, a 3D poster is a traditional advertising poster that
contains an additional three-dimensional element (e.g., paper-crafts, 3D installations
or real objects). According to Hutter (2015), the majority of ambient out-of-home
advertisements contains additional 3D elements, which alter the visual aspects of the
ads. The additional 3D elements could be oversized, undersized or of similar size to
the original images. For instance, a ‘huge’ 3D bubble of ‘gum’ has been added to Big
Babol’s poster1 in Qatar showing a child blowing a bubble of gum (MediaMe, 2008).
In another example the entertainment company FOAM2 designed a 3D paper-craft
white horse mounted on an advertising poster, announcing an upcoming band in
East London (Lucas, 2011). Also, a series of 3D posters was designed to increase
public awareness of the Avondale Community Gardens in Auckland, New Zealand.
3D paper-craft objects (e.g., hands holding tomatoes, garden tools) were added to the
posters, replacing the corresponding images (Lafaele, 2012). In a similar approach,
the present study replaces visual elements with similar sized real objects to investigate
the differential effects of three-dimensional (vs. two-dimensional) elements on poster
advertising effectiveness.
Despite the proliferation in the use of 3D posters in recent years (Hutter, 2015),
the effectiveness of 3D advertising was confined mainly to the internet milieu
(Edwards & Gangadharbatla, 2001; Grigorovici & Constantin, 2004; Keng & Liu,
2013; Li, Daugherty, & Biocca, 2002), and to a lesser extent in the context of out-
of-home advertising (de Boer, Verleur, Heuvelman, & Heynderickx, 2010; Kovačič,
2012). Findings in the latter context indicate that autostereoscopic 3D out-of-home
displays affect attitude towards the brand (De Boer et al., 2010), while 3D lenticular
posters have a positive impact on consumers’ attention to the ad (Kovačič, 2012).
None of the aforementioned studies looked into the role of competitive advertising
1 http://www.mediame.com/en/image_media/ambient/big_babol_xxl_ballon_poster_3
2 https://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2011/july/dry-the-river-3d-fly-posters/
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Hatzithomas, Zotou & Palla 3D posters’ effectiveness 155
environment and ad exposure time on awareness (recall and recognition) of the
3D poster (ad) and the advertised brand. Although Donthu, Cherian and Bhargava
(1993) underlined the potential negative relationship between competing advertising
and out-of-home advertising effectiveness, they did not provide empirical evidence.
Similarly, although the key role of the ad exposure time in the recall of incongruous
advertising messages overall has been discussed (Houston, Childers, & Heckler,
1987), there is no evidence on the applicability of these findings in the field of out-
of-home advertising.
Hence, it is the purpose of the present study to fill this research gap. We use
two experiments in order to evaluate the role of (1) the competitive advertising
environment and (2) ad exposure time on the awareness (recall and recognition) of
the 3D poster (ad) and the advertised brand. The objective of the first experiment
in particular is to investigate the impact of a 3D element (being an incongruity in
the schema that consumers hold for poster advertising) on advertising effectiveness,
under different levels of competitive advertising (zero and high), when exposure
time is up to two minutes. In the second experiment, we aim to replicate and extend
the findings of the first experiment, when the ad exposure time is limited to twelve
seconds. The present study employs the schema theory to assess the effectiveness
of 3D posters. It provides a framework for understanding the effects of 3D, salient
and incongruous ad executions on explicit memory measures (recall and recognition,
Heckler & Childers, 1992; Houston et al., 1987).
The remainder of the paper is structured as follows. It begins with a review of
literature on key issues, focusing on 3D posters and schema theory. Then the research
hypotheses, the methodology and the results of the first study are presented. The
findings of the first study establish the theoretical background for the formulation
of the hypothesis in the second study. The methodology and the results of study 2
follow. The paper concludes with a discussion of the findings, the theoretical and
managerial implications, as well as directions for future research.
LITERATURE REVIEW
Three dimensional advertising elements - 3D posters
Three-dimensional advertising elements and product presentations have mainly
attracted the attention of internet marketing researchers. According to them, 3D
elements have been found to enhance consumers’ positive responses to the product
and can be critical to the success of online retailers (Lee, Li, & Edwards, 2012).
Particularly, 3D product visualisations lead to higher brand attitude accessibility
and attitude confidence in comparison with 2D product visualisations (Lee et al.,
2012). Enhanced information quality of 3D product presentations leads to increased
website trust and satisfaction (Algharabat & Dennis, 2010a). In the same vein, 3D
advertising not only enhances product knowledge and brand attitude in a virtual
internet environment (Li et al., 2002) but it also reduces consumers’ perception of
risk associated with online shopping (Ha, 2005). The superiority of 3D elements
could be attributed to the 3D authenticity, “a psychological state in which 3D virtual
objects are perceived as actual objects in a sensory way” (Algharabat & Dennis,
2010b, p. 101). Furthermore, the novelty of both 3D advertising (Yim, Drumwright,
& Cicchirillo, 2012) and 3D product presentations (Edwards & Gangadharbatla,
2001) seems to be a key factor in consumer purchase decisions and can explain the
outperformance of 3D elements.
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Despite the extensive use of 3D advertising in recent times, there is a dearth of
research extending the aforementioned findings to the out-of-home media context.
According to Hutter (2015), the addition of 3D elements to traditional out-of-home
media, such as posters, is the most frequently used category of ambient out-of-home
advertising, with a percentage of 62.4%. However, only Kovačič (2012) threw
light on the influence of 3D elements (i.e., 3D lenticular printouts) on consumers’
attention to posters, indicating a positive relationship. Furthermore, De Boer et al.
(2010) found that autostereoscopic 3D out-of-home displays exert direct positive
effects on attitude towards the brand. None of the aforementioned studies examined
the impact of competitive advertising environment and ad exposure time on the
awareness (recall and recognition) of 3D posters and the advertised brands.
Schema theory
The effect of 3D elements on advertising effectiveness is examined in light of the
schema theory (Anderson, 1994; Bartlett & Burt, 1933), and more specifically, of
incongruity literature (Heckler & Childers, 1992; Lee & Mason, 1999; Meyers-
Levy & Tybout, 1989). According to schema theory, memory is constructed based on
schemas - knowledge structures which organise the information (e.g., objects, facts,
images, stories, events and scenes) - and store it in the long-term memory (Mandler,
2014). Schemas are defined as “complex knowledge structures, which can be regarded
as informal, unarticulated theories about objects, situations and events” (Meyer,
Reisenzein, & Schützwohl, 1997, p. 253). New information is coded either in the
existing schemas (assimilation), or in new schemas, which are created to store this
new information (accommodation, Mandler, 1982, 1993). Schemas form a person’s
expectations and perceptions of the pattern in future and past events (Hastie, 1981).
Schema incongruity “is a mismatch between a stimulus element (e.g., product,
brand, endorser, music, or any execution element in an ad) and the existing schema
that one holds about the advertising stimulus” (Lee & Schumann, 2004, p. 59).
According to Guido’s dichotic theory of salience (1998, p. 114), a stimulus that is
incongruent, in a certain context to a perceiver’s schema, could be regarded as in-
salient. The in-salient processing follows a bottom-up process, starting as a response
to a specific external (salient/ incongruent) stimulus. However, it exceeds automatic
processing; it is a competitive process that can increase ad and brand awareness only
at the expense of other competitive advertisements. In other words, an advertisement
should establish a clear differentiation among the competitive ads (taking into
consideration the context and the relevant schemas possessed by perceivers), in order
to be considered salient/incongruent. The salience of 3D posters can be explained by
the principle of unusuality which is described by Guido (2001). The salience of a 3D
poster can be regarded as an incongruity between a perceiver’s existing schema for
out-of-home advertisements and the nature of a 3D poster. The present study is, to
our knowledge, the first to apply schema theory in order to explain the effect of 3D
posters on the awareness (recall and recognition) of the ad and the brand.
STUDY 1
Formulation of hypotheses
The difficulty of attracting consumers’ attention seems to be one of the key
challenges faced in out-of-home advertising (Lichtenthal, Yadav, & Donthu, 2006).
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Hatzithomas, Zotou & Palla 3D posters’ effectiveness 157
Out-of-home advertising messages are directed towards an audience which dedicates
limited time to pay attention to, and even less time to elaborate on, the advertising
information (van Meurs & Aristoff, 2009; Wilson & Till, 2008). Thus, effective
out-of-home advertising design should be built on a strong creative concept that
grabs the attention and is memorable (Chafkin, 2007). Novel and creative executions
attract consumers’ curiosity and increase their attention to out-of-home advertising
(Fitts & Hewett, 1977; Hewett, 1975). When the incongruity of new and novel
knowledge exceeds a threshold, it generates surprise (Meyer et al., 1997; Reisenzein,
2000). Then, the person’s attention focuses on the unexpected event, the source of
surprise (i.e., the 3D element). Indeed, previous research indicates that drivers pay
more attention to the billboards with cutout extensions (PRS, 1983), and that 3D
lenticular elements increase consumers’ attention to a poster (Kovačič, 2012). Thus,
the following hypothesis is formulated:
H1 3D posters trigger greater attention, compared to traditional posters.
Unusual and creative posters intrigue consumers, probably because they are less
familiar and often unexpected, so they are recalled more easily than the traditional
ones (Solomon, 2003). Indeed, recall of out-of-home advertising may be increased
through the use of unusual executions, such as using black and white ads, when
competitive posters are in colour (Donthu et al., 1993). Similarly, Bhargava, Donthu
and Caron (1994) showed that the use of artwork on billboards leads to significantly
higher recall scores than the use of photographs. Given that in their study the use of
artwork was less common (23% of the total number of the billboards tested) than the
use of photographs (77% of the total number of the billboards tested), the increased
recall can be attributed to the novelty of the use of artwork on the billboards.
Moreover, the review of the relevant literature reveals that the use of incongruent
elements or unexpected executions in ads, not only triggers consumers’ attention but
also increases ad and brand awareness (Arias-Bolzmann, Chakraborty, & Mowen,
2000; Dahlén, 2005; Guido, 1998; Heckler & Childers, 1992; McQuarrie &
Mick, 1996; Meyers-Levy & Sternthal, 1991). Adding unexpected elements to ads
can improve ad memorability (Arias-Bolzmann et al., 2000; Heckler & Childers,
1992). Unexpected (incongruent) information is easier to recall than the expected
(congruent) information (Guido, 1998; Heckler & Childers, 1992). Unexpected
information is maintained in the memory of the recipient of the advertisement for a
longer time compared to the expected information (Lee & Mason, 1999). Moreover,
Guido (1998) suggested that an incongruent advertising message improves brand
recognition. This happens because the recipient of the advertisement, in his/her
effort to conceive the incongruity, creates new combinational paths in the knowledge
he/she possesses for the brand (Sjödin & Törn, 2006). Thus, it is assumed that a 3D
poster is likely to lead to more detailed processing of the advertising content and the
associated brand information. The following hypotheses are advanced:
H2 3D posters achieve greater i) unaided ad recall and ii) aided ad recall compared to
traditional posters.
H3 3D posters achieve greater i) unaided brand recall, ii) aided brand recall, iii) brand
name recognition and iv) brand package recognition, compared to traditional
posters.
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One of the most important factors that positively influences posters’ recall is a good
location (Bhargava et al., 1994; Donthu et al., 1993). Highways are considered an
ideal place for posters (to be located), since they provide high frequency of exposure
to a great amount of commuters (Donthu et al., 1993). However, the presence of
numerous posters with complicated, inconsistent, and contradictory advertising
messages may restrict the ability of consumers to recall the product promises. Humans
have finite abilities to elaborate information and these abilities highly depend on their
time availability (Miller, 1956). Prior research has highlighted the detrimental effects
that a competitive advertising environment has on consumers’ ad and brand recall
(Keller, 1987, 1991). A competitive advertising environment confuses consumers
and decreases their capability to recall brand claims (Burke & Srull, 1988).
According to Guido (2001), an advertisement should establish a distinct
differentiation among the competitive ads in order to be considered salient/
incongruent. Furthermore, incongruent stimuli that create surprise constitute a
privileged way to draw consumers’ attention when the communication environment is
competitive (Derbaix & Pham, 1991; Derbaix & Vanhamme, 2003). An incongruent
element motivates the advertising audience to process the message communicated
and enhances memory traces for the ad (Heckler & Childers, 1992). Hence, it is
assumed that when the level of competitive advertising is high, a 3D poster exerts
a direct positive effect on advertising effectiveness. On the contrary, when there are
no competing ads and the ad memory trace is not confused, a 3D poster has little
effect on memory, because recall and recognition are already high. It is, therefore,
hypothesised that:
H4 3D posters trigger greater consumer attention to the ad in the presence of, rather
than the absence of, competing ads in the advertised brand’s product category.
H5 3D posters achieve greater i) unaided and ii) aided ad recall in the presence of,
rather than the absence of, competing ads in the advertised brand’s product
category.
H6 3D posters achieve greater i) unaided brand recall, ii) aided brand recall, iii) brand
name recognition and iv) brand package recognition in the presence of, rather than
the absence of, competing ads in the advertised brand’s product category.
Methodology
Design and sample
The experimental design of study 1 was a 2 (3D poster or 2D poster) x 2 (different
levels of competitive advertising: zero or three competing posters) x 2 (two product
categories: toothpaste and beer). The type of poster and the level of competitive
advertising served as between-subject variables, whereas the product category served
as a within-subject variable. According to Keller (1987, 1991), the specific levels of
competitive adverting (zero vs. three competing ads) adequately represent the absence
(zero) and the high level (three posters) of competitive advertising. The participants
were 252 undergraduate students (120 males and 132 females) aged between 20
and 21 (M = 20.86) attending a large public university in northern Greece. The
participants took part in a laboratory study that was conducted at the university.
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Ad stimuli
The posters promoted two product categories (toothpaste and beer). These product
categories were selected because participants were familiar with them. In this manner,
the generalisability of the findings increased, reducing any idiosyncratic effects
(Jackson & Jacobs, 1983). Unfamiliar brand names (each poster promoted a different
brand) were used to avoid any potential confounds with known brand names for
which participants may have had different prior experiences or evaluations (Macklin,
1994). The posters advertised actual brands that were not offered in Greece. Brands
within product categories were basically unique in their positioning, so that claims
across brands in a product category were different (Keller, 1991).
For the purpose of the study, ten posters, five in each product category, were
created. Specifically, all ten posters, had an identical A3 page layout (29.7 x 42.0
cm) in a horizontal format, were image-oriented, with a photo covering the whole
ad, a slogan appearing on the top-left corner, two brand claims on the bottom-left
corner and the package of the advertised brand on the bottom-right corner. Eight of
the ten posters were designed in a 2D format. Additionally, two posters, one for each
product category (the two target posters), were re-designed, with a 3D element, apart
from the traditional flat layout. Two (one per poster) real, small-sized objects were
used as 3D elements, namely, a key and a small bouquet of natural herbs. A pretest
with 42 students as participants showed that the two 3D posters compared to two 2D
posters led to higher levels of perceived surprise, novelty and unusuality.
Procedure
The experiment was conducted over a two-day period. On the first day, the
participants were invited to watch and evaluate a ten-minute video (documentary),
in order to obscure the true purpose of the study. The participants were divided into
eight (based on the 2 x 2 x 2 design employed in the experiment), almost numerically
equivalent groups, and therefore the process was repeated eight times. Each group
was encouraged to stay in a waiting room before being escorted to the video room.
Following the procedure employed by Dahl et al. (2003), the waiting room was in
fact a controlled experimental environment consisting of three big tables in a row, a
small bookcase and the five posters (placed on the wall). The posters were placed side
by side. The order in which the two target posters (one for the toothpaste and one
for the beer) were presented remained the same: the toothpaste was always placed
second and the beer fourth. The order of the presentation of the other posters was
randomised to eliminate order effects.
Each group of participants saw only a subset of five of the ten posters, namely, (a)
a 2D toothpaste and a 2D beer poster, or (b) a 2D toothpaste and a 3D beer poster, or
(c) a 3D toothpaste and a 2D beer poster, or (d) a 3D toothpaste and 3D beer poster,
along with either three toothpaste- or three beer-related posters. This approach was
adopted in order to ensure that participants would be exposed to the same number
of posters, implement the same effort levels and remain unaware of the real purpose
of the study. As in the experiment of Dahl et al. (2003), every group remained in
the waiting room for two minutes. This was an adequate amount of time for the
participants to be exposed to the posters.
The participants were then transferred to the second room where they watched
a video (documentary), as a part of a classroom exercise. After the video ended, the
participants were given a questionnaire for measuring their attitudes towards the
documentary. They were also invited back the following day in order to successfully
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complete the research. The day-after recall test of advertising effectiveness is often
used in the advertising industry in order to measure ad memorability (Guido, 2001).
On the second day of the experiment, all of the participants were gathered in a
classroom and were given a questionnaire to complete. The questionnaire addressed
the issues of consumers’ attention to posters, unaided ad recall, aided ad recall,
unaided brand recall, aided brand recall, brand name recognition and brand package
recognition. Having completed the questionnaire, the participants were briefed about
the real purpose of the study.
Measures
The measures and questionnaire employed in the experiment replicate Dahl et
al.’s (2003) study. The questionnaire first measured unaided ad recall by asking
the participants to describe briefly the posters that they recalled having seen in the
waiting room. The questionnaire also measured aided ad recall by asking participants
to briefly describe the posters for beers and toothpastes that they recalled having
seen during their stay in the waiting room. Consumers’ attention to the ad was then
measured by asking participants to indicate which of the posters they remembered
having seen in the waiting room which had triggered their attention the most, and
why. Participants were subsequently asked to write down the brand names that they
recalled being advertised on a poster in the waiting room (unaided brand recall). Then
aided brand recall was measured by asking the participants to write down the brand
names of beers and toothpastes that they recalled being advertised in the waiting
room. Finally, participants were asked to identify the two advertised brand names
from a total of five randomly arranged brand names (brand name recognition), as
well as to identify the two advertised brand packages from a total of five randomly
arranged brand packages with omitted brand names (brand package recognition).
Two trained coders independently analysed the responses to the first three
questions (regarding unaided and aided ad recall, as well as consumers’ attention
to the ad), identifying if participants correctly recalled the posters (with intercoder
reliability at .96).
Findings
To test the effect of 3D posters on consumers’ responses, a multivariate analysis of
variance (MANOVA) was conducted, with 3D design (presence or absence) and the
levels of competitive advertising (zero or three competing ads) as the independent
variables, and consumers’ attention to posters, unaided ad recall, aided ad recall,
unaided brand recall, aided brand recall, brand name recognition and brand package
recognition as the dependent factors (Table 1).
The first research hypothesis stated that a 3D poster may catch participants’
attention to a greater extent than a traditional poster. Consistent with hypothesis
1, the participants in the 3D poster condition paid more attention to the poster
(M(SD) = .22(.41) ) than the participants in the traditional poster condition (M(SD)
= .06(.24)) (F = 15.01, p < .001) (Table 1). Thus, H1 is supported. When they were
asked why this particular poster captured their attention the most, the participants in
the 3D poster condition identified the manipulated element (3D or 2D) more often
(M(SD) = .13(.34) ) than the participants in the traditional poster condition (M(SD)
= .02(.12)) (t = 3.56, p < .001) as the main reason.
Hypothesis 2 posited that the presence of a 3D poster would enhance i) unaided ad
recall, and ii) aided ad recall. In line with H2 i) and H2 ii), participants who viewed
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TABLE 1 Effects of a 3D element and a competitive advertising environment on consumers’ responses
Multivariate
effects Univariate effects
Independent
variables
Wilks
Lambda F-Value df Attention df
Unaided
ad recall df
Aided ad
recall df
Unaided
brand
recall df
Aided
brand
recall df
Brand
name rec. df
Brand
pack. rec.
Main effects
3D (presence/
absence)
.802 7.297 1 15.01*** 129.51*** 1 6.56* 1 2.25 1.46 1 11.31*** 1 9.68**
Competitive
advertising
(zero/three ads)
.898 3.357 1 8.56** 1 .443 1 .270 1 .110 1 .701 1 .474 1 .954
Interactive effects
3D * competitive
advertising
.885 3.838 1 8.828** 126.36*** 1 14.53*** 1 2.71 1 3.61* 1 1.80 1 1.17
* p < .05, **p < .01, ***p < .001
Statistically significant differences are marked with bold text
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the 3D poster had greater unaided ad recall (M3D(SD) = .38(.49) vs. M2D(SD) =
.11(.31), F = 29.51, p < .001) and aided ad recall (M3D(SD) = .21(.41) vs. M2D(SD)
= .09(.29), F = 6.56, p < .01) (Table 1). Hence, H2 i) and H2 ii) are accepted.
According to hypothesis 3, 3D posters attain greater i) unaided brand recall, ii)
aided brand recall, iii) brand name recognition, and iv) brand package recognition.
However, the findings do not support H3 i) and H3 ii), since the exposure to a 3D
poster did not increase either unaided brand recall (M3D(SD) = .03(.18) vs. M2D(SD)
= .08(.27), F = 2.26, p < .134) or aided brand recall (M3D(SD) = .08(.28) vs.
M2D(SD) = .08(.27), F = .05, p < .831). On the contrary, as hypothesised, exposure
to a 3D poster had a definite positive impact on brand name recognition (M3D(SD)
= .41(.49) vs. M2D(SD) = .20(.40), F = 11.31, p < .001), and brand package
recognition (M3D(SD) = .38(.49) vs. M2D(SD) = .18(.39), F = 9.68, p < .002) (Table
1). Hence, H3 iii) and H3 iv) are supported.
Hypotheses 4, 5 and 6 stated that competitive advertising environment has a
moderating effect on the relationship between a poster’s 3D design and consumers’
responses. Indeed, 3D posters have a greater facilitating effect on consumers’
attention (F = 8.83, p < .003), unaided ad recall (F = 26.36, p < .001) aided ad
recall (F = 14.53, p < .001), and interestingly on aided brand recall (F = 3.612, p <
.05) in the presence, rather than absence, of competing ads in the product category
(Table 1). Hence, hypotheses H4, H5 i), H5 ii) and H6 ii) are supported. On the
contrary, there are no significant differences between participants in the competitive
and non-competitive condition regarding the unaided brand recall (F = 2.71, p <
.11), brand name recognition (F = 1.80, p < .18) and brand package recognition (F
= 1.165, p < .28) (Table 1). Thus, hypotheses H6 i), H6 iii) and H6 iv) are rejected.
STUDY 2
Formulation of hypothesis
Participants in the first experiment were given adequate time (2 minutes) to elaborate
on the advertising stimuli. When elaborative processing of an incongruent advertising
message occurs, advertising information remains in the working memory for longer
and it is more likely to be successfully recalled (Houston et al., 1987). Srull and
his colleagues (Srull, 1981; Srull, Lichtenstein, & Rothbart, 1985) indicated that a
shorter time for processing can reduce the message recipients’ inferential ability to
resolve the incongruity. In the same vein, Houston et al. (1987) found that the limited
processing time (ten seconds) diminishes the superior memory effects of discrepant
(incongruous) advertising messages. Thus, the purpose of the second experiment is
to replicate the findings of experiment 1, by reducing participants’ time of exposure
to the posters.
The out-of-home message is directed towards a target consumer group whose
attention is diverted elsewhere: it is distracted by other signs along the road, the car
radio or phone, as well as conversation among passengers. Consumers have a limited
time period, and as a result, have little opportunity to carefully process advertising
messages (van Meurs & Aristoff, 2009). Hence, it could be hypothesised that when
the exposure time is limited, the recipients do not have enough time to process the
advertising stimuli and they are less likely to recall this information.
However, according to another stream of research (Lee & Schumann, 2004;
Ratneshwar & Chaiken, 1991) when the exposure time is shortened, recipients
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Hatzithomas, Zotou & Palla 3D posters’ effectiveness 163
become more likely to use peripheral cues or heuristics, such as perceived credibility,
attractiveness of the source, graphics used in the advertisements, and cosmetic
variations of these graphics. Edwards and Gangadharbatla (2001) mentioned that
a 3D element could be considered as a salient peripheral cue, a cosmetic variation.
This might create a temporary novelty effect focusing recipients’ attention on the
advertising experience and not on product attribute information. Thus, it encourages
the elaboration of the advertisement as a whole and not the processing of the product
information per se. Hence, it could be hypothesised that the 3D creative elements will
grab the consumers’ attention, increasing ad recall. Overall, the following hypothesis
is formulated:
H7 3D posters i) trigger greater consumer attention to the ad, ii) achieve greater
unaided ad recall, and iii) achieve greater aided ad recall compared to traditional
posters, even though exposure time is limited.
Study 1 indicated that exposure to a 3D poster did not increase either unaided or
aided brand recall, when the elaboration time is up to two minutes [H3 i), H3 ii)].
Hence, it is expected that when the exposure time is less than two minutes, the
presence of a 3D element will not affect the audience’s ability to recall the advertised
brands. Therefore, it is assumed that a 3D element will not affect aided or unaided
brand recall when the exposure time is limited. Also, the assumption that the
processing of the 3D element as a salient peripheral cue (Edwards & Gangadharbatla,
2001) focuses recipients’ attention on the advertising experience and not on product
attribute information leads to the supposition that 3D posters will not increase brand
name and brand package recognition.
Methodology
Design and sample
For study 2, a single factor (3D poster vs. 2D poster) experimental design was used.
Overall, 90 undergraduate and postgraduate students (36 males and 54 females,
different from those participating in the first experiment) between the ages of 22
and 23 (22.40) recruited from various departments in a large public university in
northern Greece participated in the second study.
Ad stimuli
Study 2 replicated the advertising stimuli of study 1. The same posters advertising the
same two product categories - toothpastes and beers were used.
Procedure
Participants in the second study were divided into four groups. Each group consisted
of almost the same number of participants. Each group saw only a subset of eight
of the ten posters, namely, one version of each target poster (2D or 3D) and six
competing posters for the two product categories. This approach was adopted in
order to ensure that they would be exposed to the same number of posters, implement
the same effort levels and not realise the real purpose of the study.
The process was kept identical for all four groups. Two field researchers entered
the classroom at the beginning of class, asking for the attention of the students.
Students were briefly informed about the process of the study. The two field
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researchers were standing at a two-metre distance, holding a poster each and showing
it to the participants for twelve seconds. At the end of the 12-second period, the
participants were exposed to the next pair of posters. This process was repeated
four times for each group. Eight out of the ten ads were shown in groups of two.
According to Houston et al. (1987), an average person needs ten seconds to process
both the pictorial and verbal elements in an advertisement. In this experiment, the
participants were given twelve seconds because they were exposed to two different
competitive posters. A pretest3 indicated that twelve seconds was long enough for
the participants to see both the target and the competitive ad and to process just one
of them. Each of the 90 participants was exposed to different combinations (one per
product category) of posters. Thus, overall, 180 observations (84 of 3D posters and
96 of 2D posters) were included in the T-test.
Two hours later, at the end of class, the authors entered the classroom and handed
the participants a questionnaire to fill in. The questionnaire was identical to the one
used in the first experiment, referring to consumers’ attention to posters, unaided
ad recall, aided ad recall, unaided brand recall, aided brand recall, brand name
recognition, and brand package recognition.
Findings
Study 2 replicated and extended the results of study 1, on the effect of a 3D element
on poster advertising effectiveness. A series of t-tests was conducted to test the effects
of the type of poster (3D or 2D) on consumers’ responses. Hypothesis 7 posited that
a 3D element enhances consumers’ attention to the ad, unaided and aided ad recall,
regardless of the duration of the audience’s exposure to the advertising stimuli.
Indeed, it seems that a 3D element significantly increases consumers’ attention to
the ad (M3D(SD) = .26(.44) vs. M2D(SD) = .06(.24), t = 3.674, p < .001), unaided
(M3D(SD) = .54(.50) vs. M2D(SD) = .21(.41), t = 4.759, p < .001) and aided ad
recall (M3D(SD) = .54(.50) vs. M2D(SD) = .21(.41) (t = 4.759, p < .001). Thus,
the hypotheses H7 i), H7 ii) and H7 iii) are supported. As predicted, there are no
statistically significant effects on brand package recognition (M3D(SD) = .50(.50) vs.
M2D(SD) = .56(50), t = .835, p < .405), unaided (M3D(SD) = .02(.15) vs. M2D(SD)
= .06(.24), t = 1.292, p < .198) and aided brand recall (M3D(SD) = .02(.15) vs.
M2D(SD) = .06(.24), t = 1.292, p < .198) (Table 2). Interestingly, 3D posters lead to
higher levels of brand name recognition (M(SD) = .43(.50)) than traditional posters
(M(SD) = .22(.42)) (t = 3.045, p < .003).
3 Overall 48 undergraduate students were divided into four random groups based on duration
of exposure: 8 seconds, 10 seconds, 12 seconds or 14 seconds. All groups were exposed to
two different posters and then they were asked to briefly describe what they could recall
of their content. Two trained coders independently analysed the answers, by determining
how many ad elements (photo, slogan, two brand claims, package and brand name) were
correctly recalled (with intercoder reliability at .92). The findings indicated that 12 seconds
was enough time for participants to see both posters, but to recall only one of them (they
recalled 5.5 out of 6 ad elements). On the contrary, when the exposure time was either 8 or
10 seconds, the participants did not efficiently recall the posters, while when the exposure
time was 14 seconds, participants managed to recall both of them. Particularly, the ANOVA
statistics for the four groups are as follows: for the first poster F = 40.43, p < .001,
M8sec.(DC) = 2.83(.58), M10sec.(DC) = 3.50(1.0), M12sec.(DC) = 5.50(.67), M14sec.(DC) =
5.50(.67), while for the second poster F = 45.33, p < .001, M8sec.(DC) = 1.33(.49), M10sec.
(DC) = 1.58(.8), M12sec.(DC) = 2.42(.8), M14sec.(DC) = 4.58(.9).
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Hatzithomas, Zotou & Palla 3D posters’ effectiveness 165
CONCLUSIONS AND DISCUSSION
Out-of-home advertising has come a long way since the early days of hand-painting
and two dimensional signs. Posters have a multi-dimensional layout, making use of
new technology and innovativeness, such as three dimensional elements (Hutter,
2015). The present study builds on past research (Algharabat & Dennis, 2010b) and
adds to our understanding of how a 3D element affects consumers’ attention to the
poster, as well as awareness (recall and recognition) of the poster and the advertised
brand.
3D posters seem to be more effective than traditional 2D posters, since they attain
greater attention, higher ad recall (unaided and aided), and increased brand name
and brand package recognition (found only in study 1). In line with O’Brien and
Myers (1985), the present study designates that unexpected information (such as a
3D element) is more memorable than expected information and facilitates recall and
recognition. Nevertheless, the findings of the present study suggest that 3D posters
do not realise increased levels of brand recall (unaided and aided). These results
extend the prior research that highlighted the negative effect of incongruency on the
brand memorability of unfamiliar brands (Lange & Dahlén, 2003). An incongruent
ad increases the level of difficulty for consumers to recall an unfamiliar advertised
brand. In the same vein, Sheinin, Varki and Ashley (2011) mentioned that ad novelty
focuses consumers’ attention on the elements of the advertisement and not on
product information, thus, positively influencing ad recall but not brand recall.
However, study 1 also revealed that 3D posters perform better than traditional
ones, mainly when other competing brands in the product category are being
advertised. That is, 3D posters exhibit higher levels of attention, higher unaided
and aided ad recall, and interestingly, higher aided brand recall, when the target
poster is placed among other competitive posters. Keller (1991) also indicated that
the distinctiveness of an advertisement increases the possibility for the ad and the
brand to be encoded as distinct traces in the memory, and simultaneously decreases
associative interference effects in recall. On the contrary, similar ads and brands are
more likely to be strongly associated in the memory, a fact that increases the influence
of competitive interference in memory, and reduces recall. The distinctiveness of a 3D
poster differentiates both the ad and the brand in consumers’ minds when multiple
TABLE 2 T-test of different creative executions (3D-traditional)
Factors
3D poster
N = 84
M(SD)
Traditional (2D) poster
N = 96
M(SD)
Attention .26(.44)*** .06(.24)
Unaided ad recall .54(.50)*** .21(.41)
Aided ad recall .54(.50)*** .21(.41)
Unaided brand recall .02(.15) .06(.24)
Aided brand recall .02(.15) .06(.24)
Brand name recognition .43(.50)** .22(.42)
Brand package recognition .50(.50) .56(.50)
*p < 0.05, **p < 0.01, ***p < 0.001
Statistically significant differences are marked with bold text
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brands advertise within the same product category. On the contrary, in the absence
of competitive ads, there are no great differences between 3D posters and traditional
ones in terms of attention, ad and brand recall. In this case, the product category of
the advertised brand is by itself a salient element that differentiates the target brand
from the others. Thus, it seems that consumers’ pre-existing ad schemas per se are
not sufficient to explain the superiority of 3D posters (at least in the present research
context involving two product categories), but rather competing ads might be needed
to either evoke a schema or function as ‘points of comparison’.
Study 2 tested the role of ad exposure time on the relationship between the type of
poster (3D or 2D) and attention and memory measures (recall and recognition), under
a competitive advertising environment. The findings indicate that limited exposure
time (of 12 seconds) does not have a negative effect on the influence of 3D executions
on attention, recall and recognition. Particularly, it seems that 3D executions
continue to positively affect consumers’ attention to posters, ad (unaided and aided)
recall, and interestingly, brand name recognition, despite the limited exposure time.
Our findings confirm Edwards and Gangadharbatla (2001), who described the 3D
executions as salient peripheral cues leading to peripheral processing of the ad, and
focusing recipients’ attention on the advertising experience and not on product
attribute information. Hence, it appears that the limited exposure time hinders the
processing of product information; 3D advertising graphics overshadow the brand,
impairing brand (unaided and aided) recall and brand package recognition. As far as
the positive effect of 3D executions on brand name recognition is concerned, it may
be due to the fact that brand names were repeated twice in every poster and they may
be considered as integral parts of the advertising experience.
MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS
The present study provides an answer to the questions why and when the advertising
strategists should make use of 3D elements in posters; the decision for the use of a
3D element on a poster should be based on the advertising objectives and the level
of competition.
A 3D poster could be effectively used when the objectives of the advertising
strategy are to gain consumers’ attention and increase ad recall and brand name
recognition. A 3D poster is an effective creative approach even when the exposure
time to the ad is limited (twelve seconds). Given that out-of home advertising targets
a market in motion, these findings offer new opportunities to advertisers, revealing
that 3D posters can attract consumers’ attention and improve ad recall and brand
name recognition in limited exposure time.
Nowadays, consumers are ‘bombarded’ with thousands of advertising messages
(Kotler & Keller, 2006) and are often exposed to the product claims of numerous
brands with similar positioning (Mitchell, Walsh, & Yamin, 2005). Thus, advertisers
seek new alternative forms of advertising in order to break through the clutter
and attract customers’ attention. Under such circumstances, 3D posters can be an
effective and creative approach for advertisers. This study indicated that 3D posters
can become one of the key strategic choices for advertised brands in order to gain
differentiation from their competitors; 3D posters achieve better results in terms of
attention (unaided and aided) recall and aided brand recall in the presence, rather
than absence, of competing ads. This moderating role of competitive interference
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Hatzithomas, Zotou & Palla 3D posters’ effectiveness 167
suggests that consumers’ memory for 3D posters is positively affected by exposure to
competitive advertising. These positive effects are maintained even when consumers
have less opportunity to process the posters. Taking into consideration that the
contemporary out-of-home advertising is highly characterised by competitive
conditions and limited ad exposure time, 3D posters offer a competitive solution to
advertisers who wish to catch consumers’ attention, increasing, at the same time, ad
memorability.
Moreover, the findings of the present study suggest that advertisers should conduct
an external competitive audit about the way their competitors are advertising out
of home. Competitive advertising posters serve as points of comparison and play a
key role in the effectiveness of 3D posters. By conducting such an audit, advertisers
could be one step ahead of their competitors, evolving and adapting to new trends in
advertising formats. In this manner, they would have the ability to exploit to a greater
extent the power of 3D posters in a competitive advertising environment.
LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH
Inherent within any research, there are potential limitations that have an effect on
the overall reliability and validity of the study. One limitation of this study is the use
of a student sample in combination with an indoor/laboratory experiment. This type
of experiment restricts the external validity of the findings. Moreover, the posters
were undersized (A3) compared to some actual posters. However, the size analogy of
the stimuli with the laboratory conditions could be considered as adequate.
In study 2, the participants were motivated to pay attention to the posters.
One could say that this approach increased participants’ motivation to process the
advertisements via the central route. However, although they had the motivation
to engage in cognitive thinking, they did not have the ability (due to the restricted
exposure time) to centrally process the posters. Thus, it is believed that this process
resulted in peripheral processing. Future research could extend the present study
by testing the role of the participants’ motivation in the 3D poster advertisement
processing.
This study employs two laboratory experiments in an emerging and relatively
unexplored area. For that reason, replication of this research is needed to validate
the results as well as to fully understand the effectiveness of a 3D element in a poster.
Moreover, it would be of great interest to explore the effectiveness of 3D in other
media such as magazines or interactive media and to further analyse it under the
scope of integrated marketing communications.
Further research regarding the effect of 3D posters on low or high involvement
products, utilitarian or emotional products, and well-established or new products
will shed more light in the advertising strategy arena. Determining whether or not
our results are applicable to other product categories is one significant direction for
additional research in the area.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS AND CORRESPONDENCE
Leonidas Hatzithomas is a lecturer in the Department of Business Administration at
the University of Macedonia and an adjunct lecturer for the Master in Communication
and Journalism course at the Open University of Cyprus. He is also a postdoctoral
researcher (fellowship is awarded) in Social Media Communications at the Aristotle
University of Thessaloniki. He holds a PhD in Integrated Marketing Communications,
an MSc in Business Computing and a bachelor degree in Business Administration
from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He has taught in universities in Greece
and Cyprus since 2005. His research interests include advertising effectiveness,
consumer behaviour and social media communication. He has published in a number
of journals including the International Marketing Review, Journal of Marketing
Communications, Journal of Managerial Issues, Journal of Current issues and
Research in Advertising and Journal of Applied Business Research. He has presented
his work at a number of international academic conferences, such as the European
Marketing Academy Conference (EMAC), International Conference on Research in
Advertising (ICORIA) and International Conference on Corporate and Marketing
Communications (CMC).
Corresponding author: Dr Leonidas Hatzithomas, Lecturer, Department of
Business Administration, University of Macedonia, Egnatia 156 Street, 54006,
Thessaloniki, Greece.
E hatzithomas@uom.edu.gr
AUTHOR COPY
Athena Zotou is a PhD student in the Department of Business Administration at
Athens University of Economics and Business. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Social
Sciences (Humanities) from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and a master’s
degree in Mass Communications from London Metropolitan University. She has
professional experience, as she worked for one year in an advertising firm in Athens.
She has published in a number of journals including Corporate Communications:
An International Journal, International Journal of Advertising and Journal of Media
Business Studies. She has presented several pieces of her work in international
conferences, such as the International Conference on Research in Advertising
(ICORIA), International Conference on Corporate and Marketing Communications
(CMC) and International Conference of Marketing and Development (ICMD). Her
research interests focus on advertising.
Athina Y. Zotou, PhD candidate, Department of Business Administration, Athens
University of Economics and Business, 76, Patission St., 10434 Athens, Greece.
E athzotou@gmail.com
Polyxeni (Jenny) Palla is an adjunct Lecturer in the Department of Communication
and Internet Studies at Cyprus University of Technology. She is also a postdoctoral
researcher (fellowship is awarded) at the University of Macedonia. She has
published in journals including the International Journal of Retail and Distribution
Management and Advances in Advertising Research. She has presented several pieces
of her work in international conferences, such as the International Conference on
Research in Advertising (ICORIA), International Conference on Corporate and
Marketing Communications (CMC) and International Conference of Marketing and
Development (ICMD). Her research interests focus on online advertising.
Dr Polyxeni (Jenny) Palla, Department of Communication and Internet Studies,
Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus.
E jennypalla80@ymail.com
Journal of Customer Behaviour, Volume 15
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