Sunday, January 9, 2011

Research Paper on Memory

Research Paper on Memory

Have you ever seen a commercial that you thought was really funny, but you could not remember what the commercial was advertising? It turns out that this is a big problem in the advertising industry. Agencies try to be creative and humorous and this sometimes overpowers the message that they are trying to convey to the consumer. An example of this would be the ad campaign for EDS, a company that manages the complexities of e-Business. The campaign was used to promote brand awareness but did not do such a great job. The campaign had five commercials, all based on the same topic, cat herding. The concept of herding cats was humorous and almost every one of the cat commercials could be recalled but no one knew what the commercial was advertising. The ads were creative and gained attention, but did not have advertising creativity. Advertising creativity is what makes a relevant and unexpected connection to the brand or product advertised, without this there is nothing to link the brand to the commercial; without a common association between the ad and the brand people tend to remember what is pertinent, the cats being herded, and forget the last five seconds of the ad where the brand is revealed.

As one can imagine, memory plays a major role in advertising. If an ad is not memorable, effort, time and money have been wasted. There are many factors that take place in either the remembering or forgetting of an ad. The factors to be discussed here are: where the advertisement is placed, the way the advertisement is presented-by means of implicit or explicit learning techniques, escaping clutter by using alternative forms of advertising-thus increasing brand recall, and asking the question, if repetition is an effective strategy to stimulate recall.


Let’s first take a look at how the placement of ads affects the recall. The primacy effect states that items presented first are remembered better. This effect is important to note because it provides evidence for memory of organized sets of subsystems (Aaker & Biel 1993). One such subsystem, the newspaper, is an organized set where advertisements and article placement and memory for content are important elements. A set of students attending Penn State asked the question: For newspaper ads and articles, what is the relationship between placement and memory? Overall, the results for this study suggested that readers’ memory for articles and ads in the initial pages of the newspaper is higher than their memory for articles and ads in later pages. In general, articles were remembered better than ads. These findings are of interest to newspaper advertisers who are interested in gaining the most effective placement for their ads, as also editors who must decide where articles should be placed in order to be most effective.

The way an advertisement is presented to its audience is essential to memory. The main form of memory that is researched in regards to advertising is explicit memory. Explicit memory is indicated when a consumer consciously thinks back to a prior exposure episode and intentionally attempts to access the information that was presented (Shapiro & Krishnan 2001). An example of this would be seeing an advertisement for a Bic lighter on television and later that day at the grocery store checkout counter you see a Bic lighter and remember the ad you saw earlier. The important point is that explicit memory requires that consumers think back to a prior exposure episode in an attempt to retrieve information from memory that is associated with that episode (Schacter 1987). One thing to keep in mind is that memory retrieval does not just have to be explicit in nature. Implicit memory is revealed by a change in task performance due to a prior exposure episode without a deliberate attempt to recollect to previously encoded information (Schacter 1987). With explicit memory the retrieval of information is not immediate as it is with implicit memory.

In the study done by Shapiro and Krishnan they compared the roles of explicit and implicit memory in memory-based advertisement assessment. Three hundred and sixty nine university students viewed advertisements for fictitious brands under full or divided attention conditions and completed tasks requiring explicit or implicit memory or process dissociation. They assessed advertisements immediately or at delays of 15 minutes or one week. Results showed that implicit memory was preserved even in conditions of delay and divided attention, whereas explicit memory was affected detrimentally by those conditions. The reason for their study was to bring other forms of research into the area of ad effectiveness. By researching both implicit and explicit memory the advertisers will have a better idea of what works. The results of this study provide convincing evidence that researchers should take retrieval factors into account when using memory performance as a means of assessing advertising effectiveness (Shapiro 2001). However, a weakness to this study is that only brand names were researched and nothing was said about pictures or brand claims which sometimes enhance memory.

In recent years, media clutter has become such a major problem for advertisers that many advertising agencies have begun to negotiate media buys, at least for television programs, on the basis of clutter in the program. In print long advertisements are used to cut through the clutter of competition. Where should you place your advertisement so that you effectively reach you target market? What medium should you use? How many other advertisements will be there? Does you ad have too many pictures? All these questions are good ones when it comes to escaping clutter. Many citizens in our society are so used to seeing advertisements that they develop ad avoidance, where they do not realize the ads around them. This a problem for advertisers because if people automatically avoid the ads and never take notice, what is the point? As Americans we are exposed to some 3,600 advertising messages a day. Not all of these are strictly ads you would see in print or on television. Every time you see someone drinking a Coke or wearing Donna Karen clothing you are exposed to the brand, which is essentially advertising. If we had to pay attention to every one, life would be more hectic than it already is. Think about it, you hear an advertisement on the radio while driving then see five billboards and an airplane flying a banner for Hooters, do you take notes on everything you heard and saw? There is no way we could process and remember every ad we see. So to stop clutter in our own minds we pay attention to what is relevant to us, and we do it automatically. A reader’s interest in processing an advertisement has a significant effect on advertising memory. An uninterested reader pays no attention to the advertisement or, at best, briefly processes only its executional characteristics like layout and visuals.

Advertisers are aware of the ad avoidance strategies people use and have resorted to a different forms of advertising that push the product, but is not seen as advertising. The two concepts are deception and hyperrealism. The former attempts to create a seamless flow between the advertisement and the sponsored programming itself-such as camouflaged ads and product placements found in movies and television – and the latter employs “exaggerated realist conventions” to recreate scenarios from everyday life (Schacter & Graft 1989). These types of advertisements are effective because people remember what they saw in a movie and that sometimes influences buying decisions.

Studies have been done to try and decide if repetition helps or hurts advertisements. Many studies in verbal learning have demonstrated a positive relationship between exposure frequency and message memory. Repetition enhances memory by strengthening memory traces because it increases redundancy and provides more opportunities to process the message (Jones 1995). The relationship between repeated exposure and message learning has been affirmed in many advertising studies. The finding suggest that if, at a single exposure, a primarily picture advertisement are equal in their memory effectiveness, and than repeating a shorter advertisement would be better that a prolonged view of a long cluttered ad. Another thing to consider when speaking of repetition is the size of your ad. This can be just as important. Like repetition, the size of an ad has not significant effect on recall. Research shows that the size of the ad is not a deciding factor in the recall of the advertisement. Findings indicate that size advantage either flattens or declines significantly for advertisements beyond one-half page (Gallagher, Foster & Parsons, 2001).

There are many things that affect the ability of recall for advertisements. Only a few such as: ad placement, implicit and explicit learning techniques used to recall brand names, the clutter issue and the effectiveness of repetition and size of advertisements were mentioned here. Many studies have been done, all trying to prove or disprove something dealing with the way we perceive and recall advertisements.

These studies are good but they could be better. Every study focuses on one or two aspects of advertising. If one wants to have accurate data, should we not have more variables in a study. For future research, instead of only taking brand names into consideration and getting a result, why not research brand names in conjunction with logos, trademarks or other pictures to find more accurate data. These results would more accurately depict the way people view and remember brand advertisements. When you see an ad the regular environment (not in a testing situation) if you pay attention to it at all, your focus is not only on the brand name or product but the entire ad; so why not have an experiment with the entire ad.

Warning!!! All free online research papers, research paper samples and example research papers on Memory topics are plagiarized and cannot be fully used in your high school, college or university education.

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