Advertisers should understand consumer views on the environmental impact of different media channels when they develop campaigns, according to a study published in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

That study was written by Claudia A. Rademaker (Stockholm University), Marla Royne Stafford (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) and Mikael Andéhn (Royal Holloway, University of London).

And their research found that direct mail, catalogues and brochures, newspapers and magazines, outdoor posters and in-store posters were seen as the most harmful media channels for the environment by consumers.

The analysis also revealed that media channels that were perceived as “eco-harmful” were typically “not associated with good advertising” by consumers.

Building on this insight, another finding was that “eco-harmful media, in particular advertising in paper-based media, were associated with irritation”.

A similar learning demonstrated that “eco-harmful media were not perceived as carrying trustworthy advertisements”, the study stated.

These results were based on two surveys as described in the paper,

Managerial–consumer eco-harmful media perceptions and eco-conscious attitudes: understanding the context within green media.

The first survey involved 1,928 consumers in Sweden and was representative of the population; the second featured a group of marketing managers who belonged to the Association of Swedish Advertisers.

Participating consumers rated several media channels – newspapers/magazines, SMS/MMS, outdoor ads, cinema, radio, TV, direct mail and the internet – in terms of whether they were harmful for the environment.

These consumers also provided views on if they believed that advertising in these various media channels was “good”, “irritating” and “trustworthy”.

Marketing managers, by contrast, outlined their beliefs about how consumers would perceive different media in terms of whether or not different channels were harmful for the environment.

And the marketing executives over-estimated consumer perceptions when it came to direct mail, catalogues and brochures and in-store posters being damaging to the environment.

“In particular, consumers considered paper-based media, including direct mail, to be significantly less harmful to the environment than marketing managers believed they would,” the study said.

Equally, they underestimated this perception for the other featured channels, a list including newspapers and magazines, television and mobile phones.

“Consumers understand the negative eco-harmful effects of electronic media better than managers might think,” the study added.

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