NEW YORK: Despite the insistence of academics who point to “truths” in advertising research, studies may benefit from carrying an expiration date, according to a paper published in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

Marla B. Royne, chair at the University of Memphis Fogelman College of Business and Economics Department of Marketing & Supply Chain Management, outlined this problem in terms of media, not the messages being delivered.

“Academic research typically is published only in a field’s top journals when something novel or at least ‘new’ is discovered,” she wrote. “That is, once something is reported in the literature, a general premise has been that there is no need to test it again.”

In Why We Need More Replication Studies to Keep Empirical Knowledge in Check: How Reliable Is ‘Truth’ in Advertising Research?, Royne argues that “replication” – new examinations of perceived marketing research “truths” – provides an invaluable service in that “it is one way that science actually can self-correct”.

She explained: “What is most valuable in replication studies is that, by offering new insight into the theories tested, they elucidate advertising knowledge.

“Recent studies have shown that replications have the potential to contribute in that they can help researchers to better understand the concept or theory of interest by looking at it in a different way or in a different context.

“This recent work, furthermore, has demonstrated that replications can help a researcher get closer to what is believed to be the ‘truth’, even if the actual truth cannot be truly determined and is changing as advertising changes.”

In fact, with new media opening new windows for consumer study, the case for replication studies has “become even more critical where it can help advertising practitioners contend in an increasingly competitive environment”, she argued.

Royne’s challenge to the publishers of marketing-research practitioners and marketing-focused academics: “Advertising journals must be willing to publish the research, and the replications must be published even when they reproduce the findings they set out to test. Those findings might not be novel, because they are not different.

“They are, however, substantiated and thus likely will provide the most value to the advertising industry.”

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