A Tale of Two Studies: Replicating ‘Advertising Effectiveness and Content Evaluation in Print and on the Web’

Katherine Gallagher, Jeffrey Parsons and K. Dale Foster
Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Some researchers (for example, Ghose and Dhu, 1998; Grossman, 1994; Hoffman and Novak, 1996; Leong, Huang, and Stanners, 1998) have argued that traditional principles of mass media advertising do not apply on the web. According to this perspective, in order for advertising to be effective on the web, it must be adapted and reconstructed in ways that involve more than continuous innovation of existing approaches. In another paper in this issue of the JAR (Gallagher, Foster, and Parsons, 2001), we reported the results of a laboratory experiment that tested this proposition by comparing advertising effectiveness in print and on the web. Contrary to expectations, the same advertisements were equally effective on the web and in print, even though the web versions did not take advantage of the extended capabilities of the medium. However, there was a difference in evaluations of the magazine-style article that contained the advertisements. On a variety of evaluative measures, participants in the Web condition were consistently and significantly more critical than Print participants in their evaluation of exactly the same article presented exactly the same way (except for medium). From a practical point of view, these findings suggest that effective Web advertising can be developed without taking advantage of the extended capabilities of the medium. From a theoretical standpoint, the findings raise the question whether people process advertising differently from the content that surrounds it.