The Effects of Incongruity, Production Pacing, and Sensation Seeking on TV Advertisements

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This study addresses an important area of research that has fascinated advertising professionals who are eager to make more attractive ads: understanding how the viewing audience perceives and processes television advertisements. Ad incongruity, the introduction of unexpected elements that are atypical of a given ad category, and production pacing were tested to explore the roles of these stimuli in capturing higher levels of arousal, which can produce both better evaluations and clearer memories of ads. Sixty subjects, who were recruited from among undergraduate students at Cornell University and patrons of a local shopping mall, participated in an experiment in which a set of TV ads was shown. Participants then answered questions immediately following exposure to the ads, providing data pertaining to sensation seeking, ad evaluation, arousal, and memory. The ads themselves represented six different conditions: incongruent and slow paced, incongruent and medium paced, incongruent and fast paced, congruent and slow paced, congruent and medium paced, and congruent and fast paced. The main findings involved Lang?s limited capacity model. It was found that the mental capacity or cognitive load required to process incongruent fast-paced ads exceeded study participants? cognitive capacity to process the information in such ads. When ads with both fast paced and incongruent elements were shown, participant?s memory for that particular kind of ads declined. The study provided confirmation of Lang?s (2000) limited capacity model. The study?s contributions include a key finding pertaining to incongruity effects that should help to resolve discrepancies in the literature on incongruity. As expected, incongruent ads were evaluated more positively, and were more arousing and better remembered than congruent ads. Production pacing also had some effect on participants. As pacing increased, participants remembered better and ad evaluations tended to be more positive. However, ad type had a significant influence on the processing of ads. Car ads were evaluated more positively, were more arousing, and were better remembered than over-the-counter drug ads. There were no significant relationships between sensation seeking and incongruity or sensation seeking and production pacing.
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advertisement; incongruity; production pacing; sensation seeking
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