Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Ad Pod Effects in TV Advertising: Order, Adjacency, and Informational\emotional Appeal

Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

Ad Pod Effects in TV Advertising: Order, Adjacency, and Informational\emotional Appeal

Article excerpt


The effects of various contexts on responses to advertising, especially television advertising, have received considerable attention from researchers. The relationship between programs and the emotions they evoke on the one hand and ad responses on the other has been especially well studied. For example, Goldberg and Gorn (1987) have explored the effect of happy and sad TV programs on reactions to commercials. They found that a happy program produced a more positive mood as viewers watched commercials, greater perceived commercial effectiveness, more affectively positive cognitive responses, and to some extent, better recall. Studying the power of feelings in understanding advertising effects, Edell and Burke (1987) also found that antecedent negative and positive feelings are an important predictor of ad effectiveness and that these feelings significantly influence beliefs about brand attributes and attitudes toward the brand.

However, important as the programs in which an ad is embedded and the feelings they evoke may be to ad effectiveness, other aspects of context may be still more important. The immediate context for most television commercials is not the television program in which it is embedded but rather, other, adjacent commercials also included in the pod of ads. Precisely what precedes and follows an ad is also, of course, a function of an ad's position within the pod of ads, so pod position effects are another potentially important aspect of ad context. Our objective in this study was to explore these more immediate context effects.


Two recently published studies on ad pod position effects have provided some support for the idea that serial position within an ad pod may drive ad responses. Testing the applicability of the large body of psychological research on primacy and recency (e.g., Kerr, Ward, and Avons, 1998), Zhao (1997) found that advertisements fared "better ... in an earlier position within the pod." Two other researchers, Pieters & Bijmolt (1997), found that "primacy and recency have only modest effect sizes [and that] placing a commercial first is better than placing it last." Important as these studies are in giving an idea of the effects that advertisers can expect from various serial positions in an ad pod, each has important limitations. Zhao's study was a quasi-experiment conducted in the aftermath of the Super Bowl. While the study has good external validity, its internal validity is questionable. Zhao was unable, for instance, to control for effects of different brand names and of various executional variables. Since all subjects saw the same set of ads in the same positions within the pod, the effects of order were confounded with execution and brand effects. And Super Bowl ads being notorious for their clever writing, stylistic innovation, and high production values, Zhao's sample of ads cannot be seen as representative of ordinary advertising. The Pieters and Bijmolt (1997) study was conducted in The Netherlands where ads occur only between programs and where the average pod is much longer than it is in the United States. Thus, the blocks of commercials they used in their study averaged 12.7 minutes in length. Findings on ad pods of that length may well be inapplicable to the much shorter ad pods typical in the United States, especially since American ad pods are generally much more embedded within television programs. In this study, ad pods were more representative of those typical in the United States, both in their length (6 minutes) and in being embedded in segments of a program. In addition, the data were collected in an experiment rather than a quasi-experiment, so internal validity should be higher than it was in Zhao's study.


In an important article, Puto and Wells (1983) distinguished some years ago between two broad classes of ads: those that are transformational (primarily emotional in their appeal) and those that are informational (primarily rational in their appeal). …

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