Robert Heath makes a sound case that advertising campaign recall is not the perfect measure of advertising effectiveness. This is not controversial, indeed it would be hard to find anyone who would argue against this position. It’s one thing to recall that a brand has been advertising, another to recall a particular ad, and yet another for the ad to build/refresh brand memories.
More interestingly Heath makes an argument for the use of visually prompted recognition to evaluate advertising performance, especially for affective (non persuasive) ads. Then he presents empirical evidence that shows that non-brand users who recognised the ad felt better about the brand. Whereas the (few) who recalled the advertising did not feel any better about the brand than those who did not recall the campaign.
Very interesting. Except that his sample size is 2, i.e. two (non persuasive, affective) ads.
Both these articles cover the same arguments and same 2 ad tests:
1) Heath, Robert and Agnes Nairn (2005), “Measuring affective advertising: implications of low attention processing on recall,” Journal of Advertising Research, 45
(2), 269-81.2) Heath, Robert and Pam Hyder (2005), “Measuring the hidden power of emotive advertising,” International Journal of Market Research, 47 (5), 467-86.
Memory is complex, so is communication. Different metrics give different insight into how the communication is affecting memory. The problem with using visually prompted ad recognition as test of memory is that people have fantastic ability to recognise images. So it functions more as a test of exposure, than of memory – which makes it a useful measure but in different ways, i.e. not as a direct measure of advertising effect.
Verbally prompted recognition (i.e. verbally describing the ad) is possibly a better way of assessing whether it was seen and processed a little, and helps diagnose if the problem is that the communication doesn’t get noticed or if the branding is off. It essentially gives a lot of cues but is less complete than visually prompted ad recognition.
Both my and Heath’s hypotheses need more testing.