Marketers should consider the media context in which their ads appear when seeking to get their messages remembered, drive brand recognition and recall, and launch new products, according to a paper in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

The study, entitled Impact of Media Context on Advertising Memory: A Meta-Analysis of Advertising Effectiveness, assessed the importance of “media context in which advertisements are placed – also known as the media environment – on advertising effects”.

In doing so, it drew on a meta-analysis of 497 “effect sizes” gathered from 70 different studies that focused on advertising recall and recognition.

One finding was that there is “high media involvement, greater media–advertising-content congruency, and program liking positively affected advertising memory” among consumers.

Another learning was that “highly arousing, humorous, violent, sexual, and suspenseful content negatively affected advertising memory”.

The study’s authors – Eun Sook Kwon (Rochester Institute of Technology), Karen Whitehill King (University of Georgia), Greg Nyilasy (University of Melbourne) and Leonard N. Reid (University of Georgia/Virginia Commonwealth University) – drilled down further into this area.

“Advertisers accordingly should rely not only on information such as ratings, reach, or readership but also on specific media-context factors that exert positive, negative, or neutral influence on memory for the placed advertisements,” they wrote. “This is especially relevant for programmatic buying.”

A second “important finding”, the scholars argued, was that “media-context factors seem to elicit higher recall and recognition for advertising than for brand (e.g., involvement, arousal, attention, transportation)”.

“The finding should be troubling for advertising professionals, given that it is memory for advertised brands, not memory for the advertising content itself, that media-placed advertising should be achieving,” they wrote.

“The implication of the advertising-memory discrepancy is that advertisements are not fulfilling their primary communication task under varying media-context conditions.”

A third key point was that “fictitious brands tended to yield a stronger impact on advertising memory than real brands (e.g., involvement, entertainment and enjoyment, transportation media-context factor) in the research context”.

One possible reason was that consumers use media context to “evaluate unfamiliar advertised brands” in a manner that is not required for well-known products.

“The findings suggest that media professionals should consider media contexts especially when they are launching a new brand and trying to reach new, nonuser target audiences lacking in brand awareness,” the study asserted.

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