Clutter and Serial Order Redefined and Retested

Xinshu Zhao

For an advertiser, is it better to place a television advertisement in a pod of fewer ads? Within a same pod, are some positions better than others? Some advertisers suspect the answer is yes. 'The days are waning when an agency media buyer could be content simply to put a spot on a given television show' (Brown, 1988). Nevertheless, television networks and local stations say no by not allowing advertisers to choose positions, and by regularly charging the same price for all positions within a program (John Hunt of Ogilvy & Mather, quoted by Brown, 1988). Some textbook writers (Rossiter and Percy, 1987) agreed: 'contrary to popular opinion, this (position) does not make a substantial difference ... Position in general is not worth adjusting for.'

In the meantime, advertising practitioners who suspect a position effect do not know which positions are more desirable (Brown, 1988). 'It's hard to find simple relationships,' according to Roger Baron of Foote, Cone & Belding. Therefore, some advertisers, like Bob Warrens who was then with J. Walter Thompson, tried to 'get a good rotation among all the pods . . . , as well as rotation within pods.'