COLUMBUS, Miss-- Linda McNeely is challenging traditional thoughts about marketing and advertising.

Companies today run long-term advertising campaigns with repetitive exposure to ads well beyond what is believed to be optimal numbers of views. Audiences may feel that they have seen fictional characters put forth by Allstate, GEICO or Progressive 100 times or more. They may be right. A study conducted by McNeely, assistant professor of management at The W, and counterparts, examined what is too much or not enough when it comes to advertising and driving sales.

According to The W’s Dr. McNeely, more really is better. “Study results showed that rules applied to traditional media platforms (print, television, etc.) were no longer applicable in an environment where digital advertising is so pervasive.  A more crowded space simply demands more exposure.”
The Journal of Advertising Research recently published these study results in the article, “Revisiting the Relationship between Ad Frequency and Purchase Intentions” authored by McNeely ; Jennifer L. Burton, University of Tampa; Jan Gollins, Delta Modeling Group; and Danielle Walls, BDJ Solutions.
The group’s research examined the link between how many ads a study participant could recall and their likelihood to purchase the product or service advertised. The study challenged the idea that excessive exposures could be a waste of ad resources or even have a harmful influence on consumers’ attitudes.  According to McNeely, “Advertising has long sought to pinpoint an optimal exposure level that balances enough exposure to drive sales with the thinking that too much is either wasteful or detrimental.”
A total of 651 consumers from 46 states were recruited to participate in the study that utilized Super Bowl ads as a means of measuring each consumer’s attitude toward the product and likelihood to purchase.  The research also investigated the influence of emotion (affect) and thought (cognition) based on how many ads a participant could recall.  

McNeely explained, “We know that the consumer decision process is primarily emotional at the outset, when we identify a need – perhaps the hunger that comes with the approach of meal time.  This emotional trigger gives way to a thought process (cognition) as we create a set of options that might include where and what to eat.  Finally, the process returns to emotional drivers as we fondly recall the food or restaurant we prefer.”

The authors believe that the number of ads consumers recalled may have served as proxy for their stage in the purchase decision process.  Study findings indicated that purchase intention was highest when a consumer reported having seen an ad more than 10 times. This indicated that the consumers were late in the consumer decision process but also that this high level of exposure had a positive impact on purchase intention. As a result of the study, consumers can expect to see more from companies as advertisers seek long-term emotional connections with their audience.

The Advertising Research Foundation began publishing the “Journal of Advertising Research” in 1960. This journal is read by practitioners in the field of advertising and marketing research and students and faculty members at more than 5,000 universities in 127 countries.

April 10, 2018
Contact: Tyler Wheat
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