Recognition, Recall, and Rating Scales

William D Wells
Rutgers University and Benton & Bowles, Inc.

To gauge interest in an advertisement, use the recognition method. To plumb how meaningful the message is and how well the brand name registers, use recall. But to predict subsequent sales, just ask people to rate the ad.

With large resources and good research designs, we now can measure the sales effects of advertising campaigns (Wolfe, et al., 1962, 1963). But, except under very unusual circumstances, we cannot measure the sales effects of individual ads.

Without a real measure of sales effectiveness, advertisers have fallen back on other less obvious measures of an advertisement’s worth. One of these is memorability, as measured by aided recall. Another is the recognition method used by Starch. And still another is direct rating of advertisements by consumers themselves.