Consumers and industry professionals rate advertising creativity in different ways, with potentially significant impacts on the power of these messages, according to a paper in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

Erik Modig and Micael Dahlen, from the Stockholm School of Economics, found that “both consumers and practitioners are capable of rating advertising creativity, but that they adopt significantly different perspectives as to exactly how to weigh the different dimensions of creativity”.

Twenty television and print ads were used for the first study in their digital-first JAR paper, entitled Quantifying the advertising-creativity assessments of consumers versus advertising professionals: Does it matter whom you ask?

And these messages were assessed using responses from 1,570 practitioners and 4,400 consumers – equating to 220 consumer responses per ad.

Both panels were asked to rate these ads on their “overall subjective creativity”, “originality” and “appropriateness”, while consumers also fielded queries about their attitudes towards the ad, brand, and purchase intention.

While originality was “the most important dimension of creativity” for the two groups, it weighed “less heavily in consumers’ advertising-creativity assessments than in those of advertising professionals”.

Equally, appropriateness and the execution of an ad were more important for consumers than insiders from the advertising industry, the authors reported.

Building on these insights, a second study involved 30 magazine ads – half of which came from Time, National Geographic, Interview and Better Homes and Gardens, while the other 15 had each recently won a Clio award.

Fully 648 online consumers assessed this work – coming in at approximately 22 consumers per ad – using the three main criteria from the first study. They also described their views using free text.

“About one-third of consumers spontaneously did assess the creativity of the advertisements they were exposed to,” the scholars stated.

However, they added: “Comparing the ‘average’ advertisements with the award-winning advertisements, the authors found no significant difference in how frequently participants listed ‘creativity’ or any other similar words as evaluation criteria.”

One recommendation from their work is that consumers “not only might function as a resource for pretests of an advertisement’s overall level of creativity before it leaves the drawing table but also might offer indications as to those aspects of creativity to which they attribute the greatest value”.

Additionally, Modig and Dahlen suggested that ads should be developed “in such a way that consumers readily can identify and acknowledge the advertisements’ quality of execution and appropriateness” – something that is not always standard practice today.

Sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by WARC staff