Consumer Memory In Relation To Advertising Effectiveness

Psychology is known for the study of the human mind and its behaviour. It can be seen as the umbrella term for the sub-fields of psychology such as cognitive psychology and social behaviour (McLeod, 20011). It is frequently argued whether or not psychology is a science or simply a descriptive science, a description of which scientist use to say that the subject is ‘not a science’, it merely describes rather than explains e.g. a specific behaviour. The Humanistic approach is seen as a non-science as psychologists of that field believe that:

‘Only by seeing the world from the individual’s point of view can we really understand why they act the way they do.’ (McLeod, 2008 [online])

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Cognitive psychology is the study of the way in which the brain processes information internally, this allows us to consider the environment around us (stimulus) and determine the correct way to behave and speak by going through four stages known as bottom-up processing (Eysenck and Keane, 2010). This information is then stored and filed into either our long-term or short-term memory. It is apparent that the cognitive process is very similar to that of a computer, hence why psychologists use the computer metaphor and its attributes of processing, organisation, storage and response to explain cognitive processing more clearly (Carello et al, 1984).

Consumer psychology is simply the ‘why’ to consumer behaviour and helps conjure an explanation to a consumer’s wants and needs (Khosla, 2010). Theories and methods from various fields such as marketing, psychology, economics and sociology help towards understanding the consumer’s mind and behaviour (Jansson-Boyd, 2011). It focusses on the internal psychological factors that affect the choices and behaviour of the consumer, these being motivation, perception, learning and beliefs and attitudes (Lejniece, 2011). As a result, the cognitive processes of the human mind are very important in the study of consumer psychology (Jansson-Boyd, 2010).

The focus of this essay will be on the effectiveness of multi-media advertising (screen) versus single-media advertising (print) on consumer’s working memory and distinguishing its effectiveness of advertising through recall.

Critical Analysis (2000)

Burke and Skrull (1988) investigated three different ways in which the consumers’ memory may be influenced and affected with regards to magazine adverts when exposed to other competitive adverts. The first experiment required 144 Introductory Psychology university students to review 12 various adverts on a computer screen in their own time and when they had made a judgement on either of the questions asked alongside the advert they were asked to press the space bar to rate their answer on a judgement scale.

Subjects were later on given an explicit memory test based on three target ads chosen as specific adverts for the experiments. Burke and Skrull (1988) found that the ability of recalling specific product information and ads are highly influenced by surrounding competitor advertisement. There are many weaknesses to this study; firstly, the internet was not introduced until two years later in 1990 by Tim Burners Lee (Borden, 2000), making it impossible for consumers to view any type of advert online. To have carried out an experiment asking participants to view adverts on a computer screen is unrealistic and makes this study weak in ecological validity.

In addition to this, participants were not given a set amount of time to look and gather information about any of the ads shown in the experiment, meaning that they may have spent more time on one ad than another. This makes measuring effectiveness difficult and makes this part of the study unreliable.

Dijkstra et al’s (2005) research was based on the cognitive responses of multi-media versus single-media campaigns through television, internet and print. Based on a study by Kiseiekius and Sternthal (1994) it is believed that the use of more sensory modes (such as auditory and visual) used in adverts can lead to increased advertising effectiveness.

Using Kisielius and Sternthal’s (1994) theory, the aim of the study was to find out which of the three media had the most effect on consumer recall and whether or not they complimented each other towards advertising effectiveness and persuasion if used in a single campaign. The tests they conducted looked at the cognitive responses of consumers of both single and multi-media campaign messages.

The test required participants to view nine different adverts; three one-medium adverts from print-only, television-only and internet-only, and another three-media campaigns in six different sequences. All participants were exposed to all of the ads three times. The time given to view the television containing news and adverts were eight minutes and two minutes respectively. For both Print and Internet adverts, participants were given ten minutes in total. They were then asked to fill out a questionnaire that required them to write down everything they could recall about the ads, including uses and benefits.

The items used for the target ads were for a brand of wine and a book. Only two items were used as personal involvement items in the study rather than twenty to avoid the risk of conditioning and therefore reducing the validity of measuring. However if they were to have used a wider variety of products it may have increased the study’s reliability (Rossiter and Kayande, 1999).

Through their experiment Dijkstra et al (2005) found that for both the book and brand of wine, participants who were exposed to television-only adverts recalled more elements compared to participants who were exposed to multi-media adverts.

found through their experiments that television had a larger effect on consumer memory due to the use of both auditory and visual modes compared to either print or screen advertisements.

Figure – Baddeley (2000) The Episodic Buffer:

A new component of working memory?

This is due to the working memory and can be explained through Baddeley and Hitch’s (2000) model. The model explains how the working memory consists of four parts; the central executive (CE), phonological loop (PL), visuospatial sketchpad (VS) and the episodic buffer (EB).

Dijkstra et al (2005)’s study concentrates on finding the cognitive effects on single versus multi-media advertising

Interference- verbal and visual components.

Learning without involvement- krugman 1965

TV advertisers control the pace of how long consumers can take in the information, however in contrast to that, print media and internet allows consumers to take their own time

Sundar et al (1998) found that print performance is increasingly better on the memory compared to screen as print media allows the consumer to take in the advert as a whole whereas online consumers would or may have to scroll through the ad.- TIME

– Sundar SS, Narayan S, Obregon R, Uppal C. Does web advertising work? Memory for print versus online media. Journal Mass Commun Q. 1998;75(Winter):822-35.

Dual-coding- Paivio’ (1971)- suggests that television has a larger effect on cognitive responses and memory.

-Paivio A. Imagery and verbal processes. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston; 1971.

Print ads have a ‘delivery characteristic’ through turning the pages and thus created a higher cognitive response whereas internet-only does not.

Is there evidence to suggest that marketers are using research from cognitive psychology in order to assist advertising effectiveness?
Conclusion (500)


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