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Posicion serial y recursos atencionales para mejorar el recuerdo en las cunas de radio. .

Serial position and attention resources to Improve the recall of radio ads

Contents

1. Introduccion. 2 Metodo. 2.1.1. Estrategias metodologicas. 2.1.2. Poblacion y muestra. 2.1.3. Instrumentos de recogida de informacion. 2.1.4. Procedimiento. 3. Resultados. 4. Discusion y conclusiones. 5. Referencia bibliograficas.

1. Introduction. 2. Method. 2.1. Methodological strategies. 2.2. Population and simple. 2.3. Data collection instruments. 2.4. Procedure. 3. Results. 4. Discussion and conclusion. 5. List of references.

Traduccion de Cruz Alberto Martinez-Arcos, Ph.D. (Universidad Autonoma de Tamaulipas)

1. Introduccion

Es vox populi que la mayor parte de los ciudadanos piensan que las cunas de radio son de muy mala calidad, en consonancia con los resultados de algunos estudios realizados (Garcia, 1999; Barbeito y Fajula, 2005; Balsebre et al., 2006; Muela, 2007 y Rodero, 2008, 2011). Pero lo importante en este caso es que los analisis realizados ponen de manifiesto que existe un problema con la publicidad en radio: una crisis creativa que se traduce en la practica en una falta de efectividad de los mensajes. Las investigaciones realizadas indican que las cunas emitidas en la radio tienen una estructura muy similar: informativas y con una alta densidad informativa (Perona, 2007; Muela, 2008 y Rodero, 2011). Esto es especialmente grave cuando se trata de un discurso persuasivo cuya finalidad es mover a la adquisicion de un producto o convencer para realizar una determinada accion. Si el oyente no presta atencion al mensaje porque resulta arduo o no es atractivo, sera dificil que despues retenga en su memoria los datos necesarios para decidir si realiza o no la adquisicion de este producto. No debemos olvidar que finalmente este es el objetivo final de la inversion publicitaria.

En este sentido, un reciente estudio de la publicidad radiofonica aplicado a cunas radiofonicas ha revelado un bajo indice de recuerdo (Rodero, 2011). La cantidad de datos que contiene una cuna teniendo en cuenta su duracion resulto ser un factor muy influyente en la capacidad de recuerdo del oyente. Por esta razon, es de interes explorar estrategias dirigidas a reducirla con el objetivo de incrementar su eficacia. Junto a ello, existen otros factores, en este caso macroestructurales, que podrian mejorar el recuerdo y que merece la pena investigar. Uno de los mas influyentes es el denominado efecto de posicion serial, puesto que las cunas en radio siempre se emiten en un determinado orden dentro de un bloque publicitario. Con todo, el presente estudio tiene por objetivo analizar el efecto sobre el nivel de recuerdo de un elemento macroestructural (posicion serial) y uno microestructural (la reduccion de la densidad informativa aplicando recursos atencionales) en las cunas de radio en un intento de mejorar el procesamiento cognitivo que el oyente realiza de este estimulo auditivo.

En primer lugar, la exposicion que un oyente realiza de la publicidad radiofonica adopta mayoritariamente la forma de cuna emitida dentro de un bloque publicitario. Esto significa que la posicion serial que ocupa el anuncio dentro de este bloque puede resultar un factor significativo en el grado de recuerdo. A pesar de su importancia, pocas investigaciones se han dedicado a analizar sus efectos en el campo de la publicidad (Broach, Page y Wilson, 1997; Brunel y Nelson, 2003). Segun el denominado Efecto de Posicion Serial (Position Serial Effect -PSE-), el recuerdo de un estimulo queda afectado por la posicion en que se presenta al oyente, que siempre es mas beneficiosa al inicio y al final de la serie (Oberauer, 2003). Uno de los pocos estudios aplicado a la publicidad radiofonica confirma que en los bloques de anuncios se recuerdan mas aquellos que van en primera y en ultima posicion con un efecto mas acentuado para el efecto de primacia (Riebe y Dawes, 2006). En cualquier caso, puesto que este es un factor muy importante en la publicidad radiofonica emitida mayoritariamente en un orden determinado dentro de un bloque publicitario resulta importante investigarlo y formular asi la primera hipotesis de este estudio:

Hipotesis 1: La posicion en la serie de cunas radiofonicas que conforma un bloque publicitario incrementara el nivel de recuerdo de los oyentes. La primera o ultima seran mas recordadas.

Junto a estos factores, la densidad informativa parece resultar un elemento clave en el correcto procesamiento cognitivo que un oyente realiza de un estimulo auditivo, como demuestra el modelo de procesamiento de capacidad limitada (Limited Capacity Model of Motivated Mediated Message Processing -LC4MP-, Lang, 2000, 2006, 2009). Segun esta teoria, los recursos que un sujeto necesita para procesar de manera optima un mensaje estan determinados por la densidad informativa y por la complejidad estructural del estimulo al que se expone. Cuanta mayor sea la densidad informativa y la complejidad, mas dificil sera el proceso de codificacion del mensaje, incluso pudiendo alcanzar una fase de sobrecarga cognitiva que impediria el correcto procesamiento del estimulo (Fox. Park y Lang, 2007). En concreto, en un estudio aplicado a la radio, Potter, Wang y Angelini (2006) han demostrado que un incremento en la densidad de informacion produce una sobrecarga cognitiva que afecta al recuerdo. Si esto es asi, el principal objetivo de la publicidad radiofonica pasaria por reducir de forma considerable esta densidad mediante una disminucion de la cantidad de datos importantes. La segunda medida estaria dirigida a aplicar una serie de recursos atencionales que suelen emplearse en la radio para intentar incrementar la atencion y la implicacion de los oyentes: la redundancia, las apelaciones al oyente y las llamadas de atencion sobre determinados datos del mensaje.

Una de las estrategias principales empleadas en la elaboracion de un mensaje radiofonico es la redundancia o reiteracion de datos esenciales. Es un recurso que responde a la fugacidad del mensaje en un medio condicionado por un tiempo limitado de exposicion y que, ademas, no tiene referentes visuales que refuercen la codificacion de los datos. En este contexto, se hace necesario reforzar la exposicion de aquella informacion sustancial para la comprension mediante una repeticion a lo largo del mensaje. Se trata, en definitiva, de una estrategia que favorece la retencion en la MCP, como han comprobado varios autores (Tannen, 1987; Aitchinson, 1994; Hernandez, 2006).

La segunda de las estrategias atencionales empleadas en este estudio es la apelacion al oyente. Si el oyente recibe el mensaje como si fuera destinado a el de manera particular, es mas probable que pueda incrementarse su implicacion, motivacion e identificacion con el contenido del mensaje, con lo cual al final la capacidad persuasiva, la finalidad ultima del mensaje publicitario, se ve potenciada (Rodero, 2008, 2011).

La ultima de las estrategias que abordamos en este estudio son las llamadas de atencion al oyente que buscan producir una respuesta orientada. Las mas claras serian las interjecciones empleadas para reclamar la atencion en un momento dado o bien para iniciar la simulacion de la interaccion al inicio del mensaje. Partiendo de estos analisis previos, se plantea la segunda de las hipotesis de este estudio:

Hipotesis 2: El empleo de estrategias textuales como recursos atencionales que ayudan a reducir la densidad informativa en las cunas radiofonicas incrementara el nivel de recuerdo de los oyentes.

2. Metodo

2.1. Estrategias metodologicas

Para comprobar estas hipotesis, se procedio a reunir una muestra amplia de cunas de radio recogidas de diferentes emisoras que tuvieran a universitarios como publico objetivo. Durante las semanas del 16 al 20 de enero y la del 6 al 10 de febrero de 2012 se grabo una muestra de cunas emitidas en las emisoras 40 Principales, Europa FM y Cadena 100. Las grabaciones siempre se realizaron dentro de los programas contenedores mas conocidos y seguidos por los jovenes: Anda ya (40 principales), Levantate y Cardenas (Europa FM) y Buenos dias Javi Nieves (Cadena 100). De esta manera, se obtuvieron un total de 223 cunas de las cuales 74 fueron repetidas. Por tanto, al final la muestra inicial quedo conformada por 147 cunas. Estas 147 cunas se clasificaron por tipologia del anunciante, estructura empleada y caracteristicas formales. Puesto que el bloque final habia de tener cuatro cunas para realizar todas las posibles combinaciones, la seleccion final tuvo en cuenta criterios que buscaban evitar un alto nivel de variabilidad y, con ello, el efecto distintivo distinctiveness effect- (Terry, 2005). Los criterios fueron los siguientes:

--Que tuvieran similar grado de notoriedad para evitar excesiva dificultad en la prueba.

--Que ofrecieran productos o servicios de interes para los jovenes universitarios para garantizar la implicacion y motivacion de los oyentes.

--Que tuvieran una densidad de informacion, estructura, duracion y caracteristicas formales similares: alta densidad, estructura informativa, una sola voz y en torno a los 20 segundos de duracion.

La densidad informativa se midio estableciendo el porcentaje entre las palabras fundamentales en el contenido de la cuna, es decir, los contenidos referidos al mensaje comercial que conformaban un argumento (datos esenciales, marca y producto) en relacion con el numero total de palabras del anuncio, es decir, con los datos secundarios (Rodero, 2011).

A continuacion, se procedio a extraer el texto de las cunas y a modificarlo introduciendo los recursos atencionales. De esta manera, se redujo la densidad informativa intentando que disminuyera del 25% en todos los casos. Las cuatro cunas finales tenian entonces las siguientes caracteristicas, contenidas en la Tabla 1:

Tabla 1. Caracteristicas del estimulo

Cuna              Elementos comunes            Densidad   Densidad
                                               inicial    modificada

El Corte          -Un locutor, voz masculina   0.4516     0.1865
  Ingles          -20 segundos de duracion
  (Tecnologia)    -Estructura informativa
Universia.es      -Musica ornamental           0.366      0.2348
  (Educacion)       original en toda la cuna
Home English      -Sin efectos de sonido       0.47       0.24
  (Formacion)
Cruz Roja                                      0.32       0.1785
  (Voluntariado)


Aunque la media de cunas dentro de un bloque publicitario en radio segun el estudio de Muela Molina (2001) es de siete, en este estudio se presentaron cuatro de manera consciente por varias razones. La primera es porque en las cadenas analizadas la media obtenida en la grabacion de las cunas fue de cuatro por bloque. En segundo lugar, el estudio de Potter (2009) ha demostrado que el recuerdo aumenta cuando los bloques de publicidad contienen menos anuncios que cuando las unidades son mas elevadas. Asimismo, se refuerzan las conclusiones obtenidas por Tse et al. (2004) que establecen un mayor esfuerzo cognitivo, que puede desconectar al oyente, alrededor de los 110 segundos, es decir, en torno a las cuatro cunas de unos 25 segundos.

Webb y Ray (1979) mostraron un efecto de posicion serial en grupos de cuatro anuncios. Una vez preparado el texto de las cunas, un conocido locutor de publicidad en radio procedio a su grabacion. Las dos versiones de las cuatro cunas se grabaron de nuevo en un estudio de produccion con las modificaciones correspondientes en el texto en el caso de las segundas versiones.

Con estas cunas se conformaron cuatro bloques publicitarios combinando la posicion de cada uno de los anuncios. Para evitar conformar un corte muy similar, las versiones de las cunas fueron colocandose de tal manera que ninguno estuviera conformado por cunas solo con alta densidad o solo con baja densidad.

Bloque 1: Cruz Roja v.1. Corte Ingles v.2 Home English v.1 Universia v.2

Bloque 2: Home English v.2 Universia v.1 Cruz Roja v.2 Corte Ingles v.1

Bloque 3: Universia v.1 Home English v.2 Corte Ingles v.1 Cruz Roja v.2

Bloque 4: Corte Ingles v.2 Cruz Roja v. 1 Universia v. 2 Home English v.1

Para simular una emision real, los cuatro bloques llevaban una rafaga de separacion al inicio y al final. La duracion total de cada bloque fue de 92 segundos.

2.1.2. Poblacion y muestra

Una vez conformado el estimulo, la muestra seleccionada se formo con 160 estudiantes de comunicacion de la UPF (86 mujeres y 74 hombres), con edades comprendidas entre los 20 y 22 anos, que fueron divididos aleatoriamente pero manteniendo la proporcion de genero en cuatro grupos de 40 estudiantes. De esta manera, cada grupo escucho solo uno de los bloques publicitarios.

La exposicion al estimulo se realizo en una sala con optimas condiciones acusticas. Los estudiantes no recibieron instrucciones previas y solo se les explico que escucharian un producto radiofonico y despues habrian de contestar unas preguntas en un cuestionario. Una vez que se realizo una exposicion al estimulo, se repartieron los cuestionarios para medir el recuerdo libre. La duracion total de experimento fue de 40 minutos.

2.1.3 Instrumentos de recogida de informacion

La tecnica de la medicion del recuerdo se emplea en este estudio como metodo para evaluar el subproceso cognitivo de almacenamiento de informacion en la memoria para su posterior recuperacion (Lang, 2009). Se trata de una tecnica de evaluacion que consiste en elaborar un cuestionario formado por preguntas que, en ausencia del estimulo, el sujeto experimental debe responder sin ninguna clave que le indique lo que ha de recordar.

El cuestionario de recuerdo libre aplicado en este estudio estaba conformado por cinco preguntas abiertas sobre los datos esenciales del anuncio: contenidos referidos al mensaje comercial, entre ellos, el producto y la marca.

3. Resultados

Las hipotesis planteadas en este estudio fueron comprobadas mediante un analisis factorial UNIANOVA compuesto por 4 (cunas publicitarias) por 4 (posiciones de las cunas publicitarias) y por 2 (versiones textuales) aplicado a la variable dependiente recuerdo libre. El test de homogeneidad de varianza de Levene no fue significativo (p = .135) lo que hizo posible asumir que se cumplia el principio de homocedasticidad (1) [1]. De los casos analizados en este estudio, las diferencias fueron estadisticamente significativas solo para la version textual (F = 32,32, p >.001). En cambio no fueron significativos para la posicion de los anuncios (F = 0,85, p = .464), para las diferentes cunas (F = 1,31, p = .269) ni para ninguna de las posibles interacciones.

Los datos revelan que la primera de las hipotesis no puede ser demostrada. La posicion que han ocupado las cunas en la serie expuesta no ha provocado diferencias significativas, por lo que una vez mas, reforzando los datos obtenidos por Rodero (2011), no pueden obtenerse conclusiones de este aspecto.

En cambio, puede darse por valida la segunda de las hipotesis ya que las cunas que se habian elaborado con recursos atencionales reduciendo la densidad informativa lograron un mayor nivel de recuerdo (M= 2,62; DT= 1,24) que las reales (M= 1,75; DT= 1,40) con una diferencia estadisticamente significativa. La figura 1 muestra claramente los datos combinados de las dos versiones testadas.

Por ultimo, las diferentes cunas no obtuvieron diferencias significativas en el nivel de recuerdo, lo cual permite demostrar su homogeneidad formal ya que ninguna se diferencio de manera evidente del resto. El orden final situo primero a la cuna de Universia, seguida de Cruz Roja, El Corte Ingles y Home English. La tabla 2 muestra todas las medias de recuerdo obtenidas.

4. Discusion y conclusiones

El objetivo de este estudio era analizar el efecto de posicion serial en el macroestructural junto a la aplicacion de ciertos recursos atencionales sobre el grado de recuerdo de un oyente expuesto a un bloque publicitario con varias cunas de radio para intentar mejorar su procesamiento cognitivo. A pesar de que existen investigaciones que han comprobado el efecto de posicion serial cuando se presentan un conjunto de estimulos (Zhao, 1997; Saiz et al., 1999; Pieters y Bijmolt, 1997; Brunel y Nelson, 2003; Riebe y Dawes, 2006), este estudio no ha podido demostrar que las primeras y las ultimas cunas de un bloque publicitario obtuvieran un mayor nivel de recuerdo, en consonancia con los datos previos obtenidos por Rodero (2011).

Una posible explicacion a este resultado puede buscarse en el reducido numero de cunas que conforman el corte. Cuantos menos elementos tiene una serie, mayor probabilidad existe de que todos ellos se recuerden con similar precision. En cambio, cuando el numero aumenta, resulta mas probable que el oyente pierda con mas facilidad los datos de los elementos intermedios. En cualquier caso, si tenemos en cuenta los datos obtenidos en nivel de recuerdo con una serie de tan solo cuatro cunas radiofonicas, seria recomendable que la industria optara por una reduccion de unos bloques publicitarios que tienen en Espana una media demasiado elevada.

En cambio, la aplicacion de recursos atencionales al texto de la cuna dirigidos a reducir la densidad informativa ha resultado ser un factor beneficioso para el procesamiento cognitivo. El nivel de recuerdo de estas cunas se ha incrementado al aplicar los recursos de la redundancia, las apelaciones al oyente y las llamadas de atencion como medidas de reduccion de la densidad informativa. En primer lugar, la redundancia es una estrategia que ha favorecido el recuerdo facilitando la fijacion de datos a traves de la repeticion, como han comprobado varios autores (Tannen, 1987; Aitchinson, 1994; Hernandez, 2006).

Este recurso se ha visto reforzado por las apelaciones al oyente que han favorecido su implicacion en el mensaje (Lopez, 1998) y por las llamadas de atencion sobre datos fundamentales de la cuna que han orientado su interes. En conjunto, se puede concluir entonces que la aplicacion de estos recursos es altamente recomendable porque actua con una triple finalidad: orientar la atencion hacia lo mas importante implicando al oyente, reducir la complejidad en el proceso de codificacion del mensaje y favorecer el proceso de almacenamiento de la informacion permitiendo su recuerdo posterior.

En conjunto y como conclusion, los datos obtenidos obligan a realizar una reflexion importante, de la cual la industria radiofonica deberia tomar buena nota. La aplicacion de recursos atencionales para mejorar el nivel de recuerdo solo ha logrado incrementarlo en aproximadamente un punto. Esto nos advierte claramente de la dificultad de la tarea a la que estos sujetos se enfrentaron. Y, con ello, pone de manifiesto la dificultad que el oyente se encuentra dia a dia para codificar correctamente la publicidad radiofonica. Ni realizando un esfuerzo considerable fijando la atencion en el estimulo, una persona es capaz de recordar datos con la exposicion a un estimulo de estas caracteristicas. Se trata de mensajes muy breves formados por varios elementos complejos y autonomos.

Ademas, se suceden sin ninguna separacion de manera muy rapida en un tiempo limitado. Todo ello provoca como consecuencia un incorrecto procesamiento cognitivo en el oyente. En una situacion como esta, los sujetos no pueden orientar los recursos cognitivos necesarios para la correcta codificacion del estimulo, lo cual deriva en general en bajos niveles de recuerdo. En ultimo termino, al no contar con suficientes recursos asignados para procesar el mensaje y ante la rapidez a la que se sucede el estimulo, el sujeto acaba experimentando una sobrecarga cognitiva (Fox et al., 2007). Por tanto, en conclusion este estudio viene a reforzar los datos de la investigacion de Rodero (2011) y, con ello, a llamar de nuevo la atencion sobre la poca efectividad general de la publicidad radiofonica que mayoritariamente se escucha en Espana.

DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2014-998

5. Referencias bibliograficas

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VC Broach, TJ Page, RD Wilson (1997): "The Effects of Program Context on Advertising Effectiveness", en Wells, W.D. (ed.), Measuring Advertising Effectiveness, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

FF Brunel, MR Nelson (2003): "Message Order Effects and Gender Differences in Advertising Persuasion". Journal of Advertising Research, 43, pp. 330-341.

JR Fox, B Park, A Lang (2007): "When Available Resources Become Negative Resources: The Effects of Cognitive Overload on Memory Sensitivity and Criterion Bias". Communication Research, 34, pp. 277-296.

F Garcia (1999): "La publicidad en radio: imagenes de baja intensidad retorica". La publicidad en la radio. VI Jornadas de Comunicacion Social, Universidad de Vigo, Pontevedra, 1999.

MI Hernandez (2006): El poder de la palabra en la publicidad de radio. Barcelona: Octaedro. A Lang (2009): "The limited capacity model of motivated mediated message processing", en Nabi, R. y Oliver, M.B. (eds.): The SAGE Handbook of Mass Media Effects, USA, Sage publication, pp. 193-204.

A Lang (2006): "Using the Limited Capacity Model of Motivated Mediated Message Processing to Design Effective Cancer Communication Messages". Journal of Communication, 56 (s1), pp. S57 S80.

A Lang (2000): "The limited capacity model of mediated message processing". Journal of Communication, 50 (1), pp. 46-70.

A Lopez (1998): Gramatica del espanol, III. Las partes de la oracion. Madrid: Arco/Libros.

C Muela (2008): "La representacion de la realidad en la cuna radiofonica", Comunicacion y Sociedad, 21(2), pp. 115-139.

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JJ Perona (2007): "Formatos y estilos publicitarios en el prime-time radiofonico espanol: infrautilizacion y sequia de ideas". Zer, 23, pp. 219-242.

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JA Porto Dapena (1982): "Los posesivos personales en espanol: intent de descripcion funcional", Dicenda. Cuadernos de Filologia Hispanica, 1, pp. 56-108.

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(1) El analisis factorial ANOVA tiene por objetivo comparar grupos homogeneos de variables para determinar si existen diferencias significativas entre ellos. En este caso, se aplica una UNIANOVA puesto que solo existe una variable dependiente. El test de Levene se utiliza para evaluar la igualdad de las varianzas de una variable calculada. La homocedasticidad supone la igualdad de estas varianzas.

Articulo recibido el 10 de noviembre de 2013. Sometido a pre-revision el 12 de noviembre. Enviado a revisores el 14 de noviembre. Aceptado el 23 de diciembre de 2013. Galeradas telematicas a disposicion de la autora el 27 de diciembre de 2013. Visto bueno de la autora: 29 de diciembre de 2013. Publicado el 1 de diciembre de 2015.

E. Rodero Anton [CV] [ORCID] [GS]

Profesora Titular del Departamento de Comunicacion, Universidad Pompeu Fabra, Espana

emma.rodero@upf.edu

Tabla 2. Estadisticos descriptivos

Tipo cuna      Version textual            Media   Desviacion
                                                  tipica

Universia      Version original           1.5     1.4
               Estrategias atencionales   2.86    1.18
               Total                      2.31    1.43
El Corte       Version original           1.87    1.54
  Ingles       Estrategias atencionales   2.81    1.25
               Total                      2.17    1.51
Home English   Version original           1.56    1.17
               Estrategias atencionales   2.83    1.08
               Total                      2.07    1.28
Cruz Roja      Version original           2.01    1.38
               Estrategias atencionales   2.28    1.29
               Total                      2.19    1.32
Total          Version original           1.75    1.4
               Estrategias atencionales   2,62    1,24


1. Introduction

The results of several studies (Rodero, 2011, 2008; Muela, 2007; Balsebre et al., 2006; Barbeito and Fajula, 2005; Garcia, 1999) indicate that most citizens consider that the quality of radio ads is very poor. Importantly, these studies have shown that radio advertising is experiencing a crisis of creativity that is resulting in the creation of ineffective messages.

These studies indicate that radio ads have a very similar structure: they are informative texts with high information density (Rodero, 2011, Muela, 2008, Perona, 2007). This is particularly serious when it comes to persuasive texts whose purpose is to convince people to purchase a product or perform certain actions. If the listener does not pay attention to the message because it is very difficult to understand or unattractive, it will be difficult for the listener to memorise the information needed to decide on whether to purchase or not the advertised product, which is the main goal of advertising investment.

In this regard, a recent study on radio ads has revealed that listeners have a very low recall rate (Rodero, 2011). The amount of data contained in a radio ad, taking into account its duration, turned out to be a very influential factor in listeners' ad recall rate. For this reason, it is relevant to explore the ways in which information density cab be reduced in order to improve radio ad effectiveness.

There are also macro-structural factors that can improve ad recall rates and are thus worth investigating. One of the most influential factors is the so-called serial position effect, since radio ads are always presented as part of an advertising block. In addition, in an attempt to improve listeners' cognitive processing of the auditory stimulus, this study also aims to examine the effect on ad recall rates of a micro-structural element of the radio ads: the reduction of information density through the application of attention resources.

First of all, the most common radio advertising text is the ad, which is usually presented within an advertising block. This means that the serial position of the ad within this block can be a significant factor in the ad recall rate. Despite its importance, few studies have analysed the effects of the serial position in the field of advertising (Brunel and Nelson, 2003; Broach, Page and Wilson, 1997).

According to the so-called Serial Position Effect (SPE), the recalling of an auditory stimulus is affected by the position in which it is presented to the listener, being the first and last positions always the most beneficial (Oberauer, 2003). One of the few studies on radio advertising has indicated that the ads placed at the start and end of large advertising blocks are better recalled than ads in the centre of such large blocks, and that this effect is comparatively stronger for ads at the start of a block and weaker for ads at the end of a block (Riebe and Dawes, 2006). In any case, since this is a very important factor in the radio advertising, which is usually presented in blocks, it is important to investigate it and to introduce the first hypothesis of this study:

Hypothesis 1: the position of ads in large advertising blocks affects their recall rate in listeners. Ads placed at the start and end of advertising blocks will be better recalled than ads in the centre of such blocks.

Related to these factors, information density seems to be a key element in listeners' correct cognitive processing of radio ads, as demonstrated by the Limited Capacity Model of Motivated Mediated Message Processing, or LC4MP (Lang, 2009, 2006, 2000). According to this theory, the resources needed by a person to optimally process a message are determined by the information density and structural complexity of the auditory stimulus. The greater the information density and complexity, the more difficult the encoding of the message is, and when the information density and complexity of the stimulus is too high it may lead to a phase of cognitive overload that prevents its correct processing (Fox, Park and Lang, 2007).

In particular, the study of Potter, Wang and Angelini (2006) has shown that an increase in information density produces a cognitive overload that affects listeners' recalling capacity. If this is the case, the main objective of radio advertising would be to considerably reduce information density by decreasing the amount of important data included in the ad. The second measure would be to apply a series of attention resources that are commonly used on radio to try to increase the attention and involvement of listeners: redundancy, appeals to the listener and the calls for attention towards certain details of the message.

One of the main strategies used in the production of a radio ad is redundancy, i.e., the use of different words to express the same idea. It is a resource that responds to the fugacity of the message in a medium that is conditioned by a limited time of exposure and has no visual references to reinforce the auditory data. In this context, it is necessary to increase the exposure of the information that is essential for the understanding of the message through repetition throughout the duration of the ad. In short, this is a strategy that favours short-term memory retention, as proven by several authors (Hernandez, 2006; Aitchinson, 1994; Tannen, 1987).

The second attention strategy employed in this study is the appeal to the listener. If the listener receives the message as if it were destined to him in particular, it is more likely that the involvement, motivation and identification with the content of the message will increase, which enhances the persuasive action of the advertising message (Rodero, 2011, 2008). This strategy also performs an intensification function, which highlights or focuses the attention on the listener (Lopez, 1998, p. 485).

Appeals to the listener can take different forms. The most common and obvious is the use of personal pronouns that address the recipient, in this case, the listener ("hey you!"). But this function can also be performed with the use of possessive pronouns "to convey the idea that what is presented is accessible" (Hernandez, 2006, p. 85). This is a symbolic function that seeks to generate a beneficial relation with the listener (Porto Dapena, 1982). In this case, the product or service is presented to the potential consumer as if it were already his or her property, in such a way that it simulates an ideal ownership.

Another resource that can be used to attract the listener is the use of vocative expressions. This resource seeks to increase listeners' involvement by demanding their attention through the use of nouns that address the listener by referring to the things they do. In this sense, the vocatives most commonly used for this purpose in radio advertising are the names of the professions (e.g. "student!" or "farmer!").

The last strategy examined in this study is the calls for attention that seek to produce a specific response. The clearest examples of these strategies would be the interjections used to demand the attention at any given moment or to start the simulation of the interaction at the beginning of the message. These resources with factual-appealing value also serve as mechanisms of emphasis ("eh!", "ah!") that can be used to highlight important information (Hernandez, 2006). Another strategy is the use of sensorial or perceptual imperatives (e.g., "look", "listen") that seek to focus listeners' attention on a particular part of the message. They invite the listener to be prepared to receive a stimulus in a short time. Finally, within this section, we can highlight the use of interrogations that simulate interactions with the listener. It is a resource that seeks to break with the unidirectional nature of the message by producing a kind of "symbolic conversation" (Lomas, 1996, p. 54) in the form of rhetorical questions that fulfil two objectives: to get the listener involved through the simulated interaction and to place him in the proposed situation to increase his or her level of motivation. In this situation, in an oriented manner, the listener responds, internally, to the issue proposed by the ad.

Based on the previous review, the second hypothesis that guides this study is as follows: Hypothesis 2: the use of textual strategies as attention resources aimed to reduce information density in radio ads will increase listeners' ad recall rates.

2. Method

2.1. Methodological strategies

These hypotheses will be tested with a sample of radio ads collected from several radio stations whose target audience is university students. A sample of ads broadcast from 16 to 20 January and from 6 to 10 February 2012 by three radio stations (40 Principales, Europa FM and Cadena 100) were recorded for the study. The advertising blocks recorded were those that accompanied the most popular radio shows among young people: Anda ya (40 Principales), Levantate and Cardenas (Europa FM) and Buenos dias Javi Nieves (Cadena 100).

A total of 223 ads were recorded but 74 of them were repeated. Thus, the final sample was composed of 147 ads, which were subsequently classified by advertiser type, structure and formal characteristics. Finally we selected four ads to form a block that included all the possible ad combinations. The selection of the ads sought to prevent a high level of variability in order to avoid the distinctiveness effect (Terry, 2005). The criteria that the ads had to meet were as follows:

To have a similar degree of notoriety to avoid excessive difficulty in the testing.

To offer products or services of interest to university students to ensure listeners' involvement and motivation.

To have a similar level of information density, structure, duration and formal characteristics: high-density, information structure, a single voice, and around 20 seconds of duration.

The information density was measured by establishing the percentage between the key words included in the ad, i.e. the parts of the commercial message that constituted an argument (essential data, brand and product), in relation to the total number of words included in the ad, including the secondary data (Rodero, 2011).

Subsequently, the text was extracted from the ads and then modified through the introduction of attention resources. This modification aimed to reduce the information density by 25% in all cases. The final four ads had the features listed in table 1:

Table 1. Characteristics of the sample of radio ads

Ads                 Common elements       Initial   Modified
                                          density   density

--El Corte Ingles   --One male speaker.   0.4516    0.1865
  (technology)
--Universia.es      --20 seconds long.    0.366     0.2348
  (education)
--Home English      --Information         0.47      0.24
  (training)          structure
--Red Cross         --Original music      0.32      0.1785
  (humanitarian)    --No sound effects

Source: Author's own creation.


Although, according to Molina (2001), the average number of ads included in an advertising block on radio is seven, in this study only four ads were included in the experimentation block for two reasons. The first reason is that the average number of ads per block was four in the monitored radio stations.

Secondly, Potter's study (2009) has demonstrated that the recall rate increases as advertising blocks contain fewer ads. In addition, Potter's study has reinforced the conclusions reached by Tse et al. (2004) who determined that after about 110 seconds (i.e. after approximately four 25-second long ads) listeners experience a greater cognitive effort which can lead to disconnection. For his part, Webb and Ray (1979) have showed that there is a serial position effect in four- ad blocks.

After the selection of the final sample, a well-known radio advertising announcer recorded the script of the ads. In the recording we made sure not to introduce any new variables that could interfere in the results of the study, such as different voices or music. To remove the music from the original ads and to make sure the voice was the same, the two versions of the four ads were re-recorded in a radio studio with the appropriate script amendments in the case of the second versions.

With the four ads four advertising blocks were formed by combining the position of each of the ads in order to be able to measure the serial position effect. To avoid forming very similar blocks, the versions of the ads were combined in such a way that none of the blocks was formed of only highdensity or low-density ads. The first versions were the original ads while the second versions were the modified ads.

Block 1: Red Cross v.1; Corte Ingles v.2; Home English v.1; Universia v.2

Block 2: Home English v.2; Universia v.1; Red Cross v.2; Corte Ingles v.1.

Block 3: Universia v.1; Home English v.2; Corte Ingles v.1; Red Cross v.2.

Block 4: Corte Ingles v.2; Red Cross v. 1; Universia v.2; Home English v.1.

To simulate a real radio broadcast, the four blocks had a brief separation at the beginning and at the end. The total duration of each block was 92 seconds.

2.2. Population and sample

The sample of ads was tested on a sample of 160 communication students from the Pompeu Fabra University (74 men and 86 women), aged between 20 and 22 years. The students were randomly divided in four groups of 40, in which we tried to maintain the gender ratio. In this way, each group only listened to one of the advertising blocks.

The sample of listeners firstly answered three questions about their radio consumption habits to determine their degree of familiarity with the selected ads. In this regard, most respondents, 82%, stated they do not normally listen to the radio, while only 14% said they do normally listen to the radio and just 4% said they 'sometimes' listen to the radio. Of the 18% of respondents who listen to the radio at some degree, 51% said they do so for about half an hour a day in average, 24% for about an hour a day, 18% for 15 minutes, and 7% for more than two hours a day. Finally, an overwhelming majority, 96%, said that they do not listen to radio advertising, and only the rest, 4%, stated that they do so 'sometimes'. Overall, it can be concluded that the group is not very accustomed to listening to the radio and much less to listening to radio advertising, which reduced the chances that the majority of the sample had listened to the selected ads before the experiment.

2.3. Data collection instruments

The design of the study is experimental and inter-subject (inter-group), since each advertising block is evaluated by a different group of subjects. Therefore the effects of the variables are verified by comparing the average values obtained in the dependent variable by the different experimental groups. In this case, the dependent variable is the recalling, while the independent variables are the serial position of the ad in the advertising block and the textual version of the ads.

Like in other studies (Lang, 2009), this experiment uses the measuring of the ad recall rate as method to assess the cognitive sub-process of information storage in people's memory for subsequent recalling. Therefore, in this research study recalling is the dependent variable which is measured by means of a free recall questionnaire that had to be answered by the experimental subjects without listening to the sample of ads or the help of cues that indicated what to recall. The free recall questionnaire used in this study was comprised of five open-ended questions about key data of the ad, i.e., content related to the main commercial message of the product. The questionnaire contained questions about the brand since they are the easiest to remember and in this case the ads were about consolidated companies whose main goal is no longer to make themselves known. In the evaluation we considered as right answers those in which the participant provided exactly the information requested, and considered as wrong answers those in which the participants did not provide relevant information or did not answer the question at all.

The variables in this study are the serial position and the textual version. The serial position is comprised of four positions that the ads can occupy within the advertising block, while the textual version refers to the attention resources and consists of two variants: the original version of the ads and the modified versions, which include attention resources to reduce the information density. The script of the modified ads contains redundancies, appeals to the listener and calls for attention. In short, this is an experimental design which examines two textual versions in four different serial positions applied to the recall variable. These variables were subjected to univariate analysis of variance (UNIANOVA).

2.4. Procedure

Each of the four advertising blocks was played to one of the four groups of participants that formed the experimental sample. Participants were gathered in a classroom with optimal acoustic conditions. The advertising blocks were reproduced in front of each group in the same classroom and on the same day but at different hours to avoid communication between participants from different groups. In addition, participants were asked not to talk about the experiment with participants from other groups. Once in the classroom, participants were informed, verbally, that they would listen to an advertising block and that they would have to answer a questionnaire afterwards. Participants were not given clues about what they would be asked later. After the instructions, the advertising blocks were reproduced. In order to replicate a traditional radio broadcast, each advertising block was followed by a five-minute radio news bulletin. Therefore, each group of 20 participants listened to one advertising block and a radio news bulletin. This was followed by a task aimed to distract them.

After the first reproduction, the questionnaires were distributed to measure the free recall. Later, the questionnaires were collected and the results of their academic performance were commented in front of the group. The objective of this activity was to know their degree of satisfaction with the task and simultaneously distract them before the reproduction of the second advertising block. The students were very disappointed and stated that their performance had been very poor. The answers to the questions were no commented at all. This initial test lasted 20 minutes. Thus, as a challenge participants were told that they would have a second chance and then were exposed to the second block, which was followed by a different radio news bulletin to avoid familiarisation. Afterwards, the same questionnaire was handed out to the participants and they were given some time to answer it. In this way, the total duration of the experiment was 50 minutes, which left 10 minutes for the departure of this group and the entrance of the next one. Students did not receive any type of compensation for participating in the experiment.

3. Results

The hypotheses proposed in this study were tested with the univariate analysis of variance (UNIANOVA) composed of 4 (advertising ads) multiplied by 4 (positions of the advertising ads) and by 2 (script versions) applied to the dependent variable free recall. Levene's test of homogeneity of variance was not significant (p = .135) which indicates that the principle of homoscedasticity was fulfilled. Of the cases analysed in this study, the differences were statistically significant only for the textual version (F = 32.32, p > .001). On the other hand, the differences were not significant for the position of the ads (F = 0.85, p = .464), the different ads (F = 1.31, p = .269) nor the any of the possible interactions.

The data reveal that the first hypothesis cannot be demonstrated. The position occupied by the ads in the block did not provoke significant differences, so once more, reinforcing the data obtained by Rodero (2011), we cannot reach final conclusions on this aspect.

On the other hand, the second of hypotheses can be considered valid since the ads modified with attention resources to reduce information density achieved a higher recall rate (M= 2.62; DT= 1.24) than the original ads (M= 1.75; DT= 1.40) with a statistically significant difference. Figure 1 clearly shows the combined data of the two tested versions.

Finally, the different ads did not obtain significant differences in terms of recall rates, which allows us to demonstrate their formal homogeneity since none of them differed clearly from the rest. The final block the first position was occupied by the ad of Universia, followed by Red Cross, El Corte Ingles and Home English. Table 2 shows the average recall rates obtained in the study.

4. Discussion and conclusions

The objective of this study was to analyse the effect of the serial position at the macro-structural level and of the application of some attention resources on the recall rate of a listener exposed to a four-ad radio advertising block to try to improve their cognitive processing. While there are studies that have confirmed the effect of the serial position when ads are presented in blocks (Riebe and Dawes, 2006; Brunel and Nelson, 2003; Pieters and Bijmolt, 1997; Saiz et al., 1999; Zhao, 1997), this study has failed to show that the first and last ads included in an advertising block obtain a higher recall rate, which is in line with the results previously obtained by Rodero (2011).

A possible explanation for this result can be the small sample of ads used in the study. The smaller the number of elements included a block, the most likely that all of them will be recalled with similar precision. In contrast, when the number increases, it is more likely that the listener will forget more easily the data provided by the intermediate elements. In any case, based on the data obtained about the recall rate of a series of only four radio ads, we would recommend the radio industry to reduce the number of ads included in the advertising blocks, whose average number in Spain is too high.

On the other hand, the application of attention resources to the ad's script aimed at reducing the information density has proven to be a beneficial factor for cognitive processing. As expected, the recall rate of these ads was increased by about one point with the application of such resources as redundancy, appeals to the listener, and calls of attention. Firstly, redundancy is a strategy that has favoured memorisation by facilitating data recalling through repetition, as proven by several authors (Tannen, 1987; Aitchinson, 1994; Hernandez, 2006). This resource has been reinforced by the appeals to listeners, which favoured their involvement with the message (Lopez, 1998), and by the calls of attention about the ad's key data which guided listeners' interest.

Altogether, it can be concluded that the application of these attention resources is highly recommended when designing an ad because they have a triple function: they direct attention towards the most important elements of the ad, which helps to involve the listener; they reduce the complexity in the coding of the message; and favour the process of information memorisation to allow the subsequent recalling. But perhaps the most important aspect regarding the content has to do with the reduction of information density. The more data an auditory stimulus has, the more difficult it will be for the listener to process it and the higher the risk of cognitive overload (Potter et al., 2006). As a direct result, listeners' recall rate will be lower and in this case it is important to remember that "an advertisement that has not been encoded or cannot be recalled is as if it had not existed" (Saiz, Baques and Saiz, 1999, p. 892). Consequently, due to the limited processing capacity in radio, it is important for radio messages not to contain a high volume of information. The important thing is to make sure that the radio message is supported with key data but to avoid including a very high volume of data (Rodero, 2011).

Only when the purpose of the message is very clear, one can highlight a single idea and thus exclude secondary data. This favours a simpler and more understandable message. In this sense, Perona (2007, p. 14) has conducted interviews with several advertising creative professionals who insist that often the problem is the requests made by advertisers who are "obsessed with providing lots of information in a very short period of time and, above all, transmitting all the data that cannot be fitted in a television ad". For this reason, much of the renewal strategy of radio advertising includes the education of advertisers, which should not only insist on the benefits of radio so that they value it as an advertising channel but should also highlight its characteristics and constraints so that the message can be conveniently adapted to the medium.

Along with the overall volume of information, another recommendation would be to pay attention to the character and distribution of the data within the message. It is important that the ad script takes into account the characteristics of the oral language and the constraints of the radio. This means, in addition to avoid making ads with too much information and numbers (phone numbers and dates are never remembered), including colloquial phrases distributed in an adequate and balanced manner throughout the different parts of the message and using attention resources. An example would be the use of redundancy at the end of the ad as a strategy to strengthen the name of the product and the brand, which should be repeated at least two or three times per insertion.

Despite all this, we must bear in mind that in general terms the results have not been as positive as expected. In both cases, the frequency of emission and the application of attention resources, the recall rate has been increased by about just one point. This clearly warns us of the difficulty of the task faced by listeners. A person is not capable, not even when consciously making a considerable effort, of recalling data contained in an auditory stimulus that contains several very-brief, complex and autonomous elements that are mentioned quickly and without any separation in a limited period of time. An auditory stimulus with these characteristics ends up causing an incorrect cognitive processing in the listener. Ultimately, when faced with a message that lacks sufficient attention resources and is quickly presented, the listener may end up experiencing a cognitive overload (Fox et al., 2007). Therefore, in conclusion, this study has reinforced the results obtained by Rodero (2011) and, thereby, once again highlights the low overall effectiveness of the type of radio advertising that is mostly presented in Spain.

DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2014-998en

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Article received on 10 November 2013. Submitted to pre-review on 12 November. Sent to reviewers on 14 November. Accepted on 23 December 2013. Galley proofs made available to the authoress on 27 December 2013. Approved by authoress on: 29 December 2013. Published on 1 January 2013.

E Rodero Anton [VV] [ORCID] [CGS] Full Professor at the Department of Communication, Universidad Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, Spain)--emma.rodero@upf.edu

Table 2. Descriptive statistics

Ad type      Version                Average   Standard
                                              deviation

Universia    Original version       1.5       1.4
             Attention strategies   2.86      1.18
             Total                  2.31      1.43
El Corte     Original version       1.87      1.54
  Ingles     Attention strategies   2.81      1.25
             Total                  2.17      1.51
Home         Original version       1.56      1.17
  English    Attention strategies   2.83      1.08
             Total                  2.07      1.28
Red Cross    Original version       2.01      1.38
             Attention strategies   2.28      1.29
             Total                  2.19      1.32
Total        Original version       1.75      1.4
             Attention strategies   2.62      1.24

Source: Author's own creation.
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