Developing new ways to evaluate the impact of advertising research could benefit academics and industry practitioners alike, a paper in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR) has argued.

Shelly Rodgers is a professor of strategic communication and William T. Kemper Fellow at the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri, where her research examines the ways digital media allow for the creation of more effective advertising.

“Does advertising research have an ‘impact’ anywhere else, outside the academic realm?” asked her paper, entitled Why We Need Better Measures of Research Impact in Advertising: Considerations for Best Practices to Expand Research’s Reach.

And the answer to this question, she reported, is not encouraging. “Seldom do evaluations of advertising research examine this question,” she writes.

Rodgers drills down into the conditions that would determine “what steps [may] lead to a more complete picture of the influences that advertising research has on the academe as well as on society”.

“Current impact indicators (e.g., citation counts),” she continues, “miss citations, and search engines such as Google Scholar (which track citations) have less quality control of publications from web documents.”

“Academic databases, such as ISI Citation Index, might not track all forms of research output, such as books and book chapters,” she adds.

In fact, Rodgers contends, the determination of what elevates a piece of research into the circle of “best-practice” papers cannot depend on such quantitative considerations alone.

“The bottom line is that simple counts treat citations as though all citations were equal. They are not. Some publications are cited in passing, whereas others express agreement or disagreement with the cited research, which has the potential to influence advertising theory and understanding,” she writes.

“What can be done about this problem? A logical step toward broadening views on quality and impact would involve a deeper understanding of what a citation means.”

One prospective example, she asserts, could involve looking at the “broader impacts” of advertising research findings, such as whether they spread on social media, receive media coverage, and so on.

“This approach would allow us to broaden the definition of advertising research impact to include non-academic impact along with our traditional evaluations of academic impact,” Rodgers writes.

“There would then be the potential to open new avenues to demonstrate the value of advertising research beyond the scholarly journal article.”

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