Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Playing the Angles: A Managerial Opportunity in Ad Placement

Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Playing the Angles: A Managerial Opportunity in Ad Placement

Article excerpt


This study explores the effects of an ad form variable-camera angle-on ads in an ad pod. It found that while camera angles do not affect recall/recognition or brand attitudes for the ad in which the camera angles are abnormal, it does affect these measures for proximate ads in the pod. The results suggest that advertising managers can gain a business advantage by placing ads in pods where other ads have abnormal executions. Doing so should magnify positive ad responses.


According to James Marra (1982), the first and essential rule in advertising is "Gain Attention." But that first rule is qualified by the old adage "it's not creative unless it sells." Thus, in advertising, the objective of a creative team is attention without distraction, to break through boredom barriers and, amid a clutter of ads, win attention with ad concepts and ad executions that do not distract from the product and product claims. Of the tools available to the creative team as they seek to achieve this objective, ad form is the one most likely to be used across different ads.

Unfortunately, as a conference of the Marketing Science Institute (1988a) has made clear, practitioners are often forced to make decisions about ad form without having any clear idea what impact those decisions may have on viewers. MSI has suggested that the relationship between ad executional variables and viewer information processing should be a research priority (1988b). In the spirit of that priority, this study focuses on an important ad form variable, specifically, the ways in which camera angle can be manipulated to maximize attention gains while minimizing distraction costs.


The nature of form has been a perennial question in philosophy, a question that has been answered in a variety of ways. After surveying various responses to the question, Steven Pepper (1970) argued that "formists" generally agree on one thing: form is rooted in the intuition of similarity. Thus, two objects have the same form to the extent that they resemble each other on some dimension. Insofar as they do not resemble each other, they are particular.

Given those definitions of form and particularity, it is obvious that everything has form in some degree, for everything resembles something else on some dimension. But dimensions differ in their range of applicability. Size and collar cleaning capacity are both dimensions on which products may be compared; however, the size dimension is relevant to many product classes whereas collar cleaning capacity is relevant only to a few. Thus, on the continuum anchored by form and particularity, size is a more purely formal, collar cleaning capacity a more particularistic dimension. In this study of ad form, the focus will be a dimension that is applicable to all ads that contain images.


The main pitfall of formal analysis is its tendency to produce new forms ad infinitum. In an inductive analysis of ad forms, a new variable emerges whenever two commercials are perceived to be similar on some dimension. Since commercials can be similar on an infinite number of dimensions, any researcher who looks for similarities between ads will find variable after variable after variable. These variables will be identified on heterogenous dimensions at all different levels of abstraction. They will, consequently, result in an arbitrary chaos of autonomous forms even if only the more generalizable and, therefore, more purely formal dimensions are retained.

It is possible that the multiplication of forms cannot be entirely avoided by any approach to formal analysis; however, the systematic approach proposed in this study minimizes the problem by embedding different forms in an underlying matrix. In the context of the matrix, relationships can be established between apparently discrete executional variables (Metz 1974). …

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