Testing television advertising and news crawls with competing appeals: how does an aversive crawl affect an appetitive commercial?
Television commercials are an important and often viable and effective advertising method. Often times, television commercials employ appeals. From humor to fear, advertisers utilize appeals in order for the viewer to identify with their product. Lang (2000) noted that appeals and emotions are a part of a larger cognitive motivation system that, among other things, measures an appeal on a continuum from aversive to appetitive. The simplest explanation is to characterize the appetitive system as the approach system (i.e. humor, sex), and the aversive system as the avoid system (i.e. fear, disgust). These systems are used as a guide for your understanding of phenomena; which stimuli we'd prefer versus which we'd like to pass up. These measurements help to characterize the appeals of advertisements.
According to Consoli (2009), advertisers believe that using news crawls is a technique that will effectively keep viewers watching during the commercial breaks. However, there is little research to determine if this is truly the case. If news crawls do tend to keep viewers watching through the commercials, this could mean a great deal to advertisers, as television commercials may be seen as even more effective (i.e. Heath, 2011; Rubinson, 2009). This could also mean a boon in advertising sales for those networks employing news crawls. But the question remains, do television news crawls keep a viewer during the commercials?
Knowing that news crawls are beginning to be consistently played during commercial breaks, other important questions arise. News is often inherently bad because people, evolutionarily perhaps, pay attention to bad news (Behnke & Miller, 1992). Therefore, it's possible that news crawls may be filled with bad news, or aversive appeals/motivations. Television commercials frequently use humor and sex appeals, or, appetitive appeals/motivations. It is therefore possible that an advertisement may utilize an opposing appeal. How does an aversive news crawl (one displaying bad news) affect the brand image of an advertisement employing an appetitive appeal? Can people separate the news crawl from the advertisement, or do these messages blend in the viewer's eyes? Advertisers work very hard to establish and protect their brand and the messages that the brand sends. This could mean a great deal to advertisers, especially if the news crawl does keep viewers on their station; their work may go for naught if the appeals cancel each other out or affect the brand image in some way. This research will determine first, if news crawls will keep an individual watching during a commercial break, and second, how competing and perpetuating appeals affect the brand and its image through psychophysiological measures.
Television production structural complexity and layers have been studied thoroughly in the context of broadcast journalism (i.e. Fox et al., 2004; Grabe, Lang, & Zhao, 2003; Lang et al., 2005; Lang, Bradley, Park, Shin, & Chung, 2006; Lang, Park, Sanders-Jackson, Wilson, & Wang, 2007); however, there is much less information regarding the effect of complexity when it comes to television advertising. Lang and colleagues have often found that structural complexity, pacing, and content affects available resources; not only does structural complexity affect available resources, but these, in turn, can affect memory and recall of messages. One could argue, from an advertiser's perspective, that television advertising requires as much attention as possible, and any structural component that takes away from attentional resources can be viewed as a disadvantage to the advertisers. One such structural layer that has been recently popular on television is the news crawl, or news ticker. Some television stations have even begun playing news crawls during commercial advertisements.
A news crawl relays news information, promotions, etc. to the viewer via a small bar at the bottom of the screen (Coffey & Cleary, 2008). Advertisers believe that playing news crawls during a commercial will keep a viewer locked into that channel and, therefore, keep them locked into the commercials as well. Channels like CNBC and ESPN have picked up on this practice and now play news crawls under commercials most of the time (Consoli, 2009). But how does this affect the perception of the brand? This may create a cross-signal to the viewer; that is, a crawl may be invoking unhappy emotions, while the commercial may be trying to give a happy message. Is it possible that this could affect how a brand is viewed?
Bergen, Grimes, and Potter (2005) studied the attentional discrepancies between visually complex news programming (programming containing not only a visual of the reporter, but also additional visual layers of information such as news crawls, etc.) and visually simple news programming (visuals of the reporter only). They found that visually complex news programs required more attention allocation and sometimes caused overload, and thus, also caused a loss in recall of story facts. This research found that individuals in the visually complex condition often relied on auditory cues to aid in recall. This led to lower recall scores for story facts. This research is highly applicable to the current study. Here, the focus is on television advertising commercials rather than television news programs. Due to the findings of Bergen, Grimes, and Potter, it may be reasonable to believe that news crawls played along with commercials may affect the perception and retention of brand facts as displayed by their commercial.
Bergen, Grimes, and Potter (2005) also pointed out the popularity of this technique amongst television executives. It is the belief of these executives that multiple layers of programming attract a younger audience. This is evidenced by a rise in viewership of audience members between the ages of 18 and 34 when programming layers are implemented (Bergen, Grimes, and Potter later pointed out that this rise may be due to the style of programming when they add in these layers, rather than just the layers themselves). It is obvious that executives believe this is an important and useful technique to employ. However, there is little research to evidence the effectiveness of this practice. A higher number of viewers may be attractive to advertisers, which also may lead to higher prices. But is their message still effective?
Many previous articles have studied the attentional deficiencies that may arise from structural complexity (i.e. Lang et al., 2007); however, there is little research that examines the emotional and motivational discrepancies between the structural components and the main visual focus. Bergen, Grimes, and Potter (2005) studied the concept of perceptual grouping. Perceptual grouping is in reference to a viewer's cognitive perceptions of a visual stimulus; specifically, perceptual grouping means that a viewer amalgamates a visual stimulus into one stimulus, therefore combining the meanings of every message displayed. This concept is very important to advertisers as they try to present their brand in the most controlled fashion possible. If television viewers do indeed engage in perceptual grouping, their advertisements and brand image may be marred by the news crawl playing underneath them. However, if viewers can separate them, the news crawl can be a valuable tool to keep viewers watching during the commercial breaks. This research will determine if a discrepancy may arise between the emotional pull of the news crawl versus the emotional pull of the television advertisement. Many articles have also looked into redundancy of a news message (i.e. Grimes, 1991; Zhou, 2005). Though not totally redundant, perhaps news crawls with similar appeals to the commercial will perpetuate the appeals, and also affect the brand and brand image in a different way. This research will also investigate the relationship between similar appeals in news crawls and commercials.
Brechman, Bellman, Robinson, Treleaven-Hassard, and Varan (2015) studied news crawl structure (i.e. flipping or scrolling) for memory and program liking. These authors found that program liking was unaffected by news crawl structure, but did affect memory. Therefore, it is possible that the news crawl may affect brand recognition as well. Further, Van Cauwenberge, Schaap, and van Roy (2014) found that a second screen (or multitasking) affected overall memory of the programming even when the second screen was relevant to the first screen programming. These findings suggest that structure and load may affect recall of programming.
The Limited Capacity Model of Motivated Mediated Message Processing
The Limited Capacity Model of Motivated Mediated Message Processing (LC4MP) focuses on how much an individual can process at one time. This model suggests that an individual has only limited resources with which to process a message (Lang, 2000), rather than an unlimited amount of resources (Lang et al., 1999). The LC4MP is based on three main cognitive functions--encoding, storage, and retrieval. Encoding is the ability of an individual to understand the message and in some way apply it to past memory or learn from it. Storage is in reference to the ability of the individual to store the information given, or, to keep it in memory. Finally, retrieval is in reference to an individual's ability to actually take that information from memory and apply it to some stimulus (Lang, 2000).
The LC4MP adds another dimension to the information processing paradigm in communication studies. This model takes into account the implied motivation of the message receiver. According to Potter, LaTour, Braun-LaTour, and Reichert (2006), this is a dual-motivation system theory that suggests emotions arise as either appetitive (approach) or aversive (avoid). For example, fear is considered an aversive appeal while humor is considered an appetitive appeal. Lee and Lang (2009) stated that encoding is higher when an emotion such as an aversive or appetitive appeal is introduced. Potter et al. (2005) noted that advertisers must be aware of appetitive and aversive appeals, especially those being aroused by the television programming itself. This may also be the case in terms of news crawls. The news crawls may be conjuring either negative or positive emotions, which may linger into the cognitive processing of the advertisement itself. This research will further consider the role of appetitive and aversive appeals in advertising.
An appetitive appeal has an approachable characteristic. It elicits a system reaction that influences the individual to seek that behavior, or at least be attracted to the object or behavior. Both appetitive and aversive desires result in an emotional reaction to either approach or avoid (Lee & Lang, 2009). According to Cybulska-Klosowicz, Zakrzewska, and Kossut (2009), an individual's very livelihood is based on their ability to discriminate between an appetitive and an aversive appeal. We learn to determine what it is that will enhance our ongoing survival (appetitive), and differentiate that from what it is that will terminate, or at least in some way impede, our survival (aversive). As we learn these "rules", we can better decide what it is that we want or need, what it is that we pay attention to, and even what behaviors to enact in various situations. Using these guidelines of survival, we learn how to react to differing appeals (Lee & Lang, 2009). Indeed, these differing appeals are produced in different areas of the brain (Cybulska-Klosowicz et al., 2009) and commonly evoke differing physiological responses as well (Lee & Lang, 2009). However, different people will have different reactions to emotionally stimulating theatre, due to many factors including the individual's past experience, the present situation, and how they have been conditioned to react in a certain situation (Lee & Lang, 2009). There are certain physiological responses that are associated with these reactions, though.
The appetitive reaction is said to evoke a multitude of approach responses due to various system stimulation. Commonly studied physiological responses to appetitive appeals are EMG (facial muscles) and skin conductance (Lee & Lang, 2009). According to Lee and Lang (2009), an appetitive appeal will elicit action in the orbicularis oculi (the smiling muscles around the eye) and high reactions in skin conductance. The zygomatic muscles in the face (muscles used for smiling) are also an indicator of a positive emotion (Lee & Shin, 2011), and will be the focus of this study.
Sex. A sex appeal can be considered appetitive because it invokes an approach response rather than an avoid response, or, in other words, people want to be involved in it in order to survive rather than get away from it in order to survive. Because it can be considered appetitive, it would likely invoke the same psychophysiological responses as an appetitive appeal, for example, it would likely increase the amount of skin conductance and zygomatic responses. According to Bradley, Codispoti, Sabitinelli, and Lang (2001), pleasurable images invoke responses in the zygomatic muscle.
Humor. Humor can also be considered an appetitive appeal. Humor invokes joy, and a sense of belonging to a social group. According to Lee and Lang (2009), joy elicits congruent responses to appetitive appeals, therefore suggesting that joy is an appetitive appeal. Humor would also be likely to elicit strong zygomatic responses (Lee & Shin, 2011).
An aversive appeal is the opposite of an appetitive appeal. This appeal elicits an avoidance reaction, or, the individual is motivated to avoid a behavior due to the aversion. This is due to individual's evaluation of the situation. The individual finds a situation threatening on some level, and therefore believes that it is best to avoid the situation, to ensure further survival.
According to Lee and Lang (2009), an aversive appeal will elicit many differing responses, depending on what you are studying. They found that aversive appeals would elicit higher responses in the corrugator muscle (frowning muscle above the eyebrow), skin conductance, and startle response. The corrugator muscle can be used as an indicator of negative emotion (Lee & Shin, 2011), and will be the focus in this study.
Fear. Fear is a classic example of an aversive appeal because a fear response generally invokes an avoidance response (Lee & Lang, 2009). Specifically, Lee and Lang (2009) reported that a fear appeal elicited higher skin conductance responses, activation of the corrugator muscles, and startle responses. Yartz and Hawk (2002) noted that fear stimulated smaller corrugator reactions than did disgust. For the purposes of this research, fear and disgust will be considered similarly aversive. Both are often employed in the same commercial, and were in this research as well.
It is possible that appeals in a commercial and appeals in a news crawl could work with or against each other. As Bergen, Grimes, and Potter (2005) suggested, the viewer may assimilate all images into one stimulus through the perceptual grouping technique. A television commercial could be trying to incite joyful emotions in a viewer; at the same time, a news crawl could be displaying potentially disparaging information. Is it possible that a news crawl can affect the impression of the brand? By running an aversive crawl (a threat or a potential threat) under an appetitive television commercial, is it possible that the viewer associates an aversive emotion with the product? A news crawl may also be running a congruent appeal to the commercial. Is this more effective? Does this perpetuate the brand's message? These can be answered through three more questions: How does an opposing appeal affect encoding, storage, and retrieval?; How does an opposing appeal affect physiological responses?; and, How do opposing appeals affect the brand?
How does an opposing appeal affect encoding, storage, and retrieval?--One simple goal of advertising requires the viewer's attention and memory. It is necessary to determine if the viewer remembers the news crawl, the commercial, or both. The previous discussion has suggested that this may change due to the appeal. An appetitive commercial, by nature, will likely draw attention from an aversive crawl; similarly, an aversive commercial may lead the viewer to avoid it and pay attention to the crawl. Therefore, the first two hypotheses are offered:
H1: Participants will have higher encoding, storage, and retrieval scores for appetitive commercials run over aversive news crawls.
H2: Participants will have higher encoding, storage, and retrieval scores for appetitive news crawls run under aversive commercials.
Television commercials and news crawls may employ the same appeal (i.e. an appetitive commercial is played over an appetitive crawl). How can this affect the processing of the clip? There is little research to suggest that memory may be perpetuated; however, there is little research to suggest otherwise as well. Therefore, the first research question is asked:
RQ1: How will similar appeals of the commercial and crawl affect the encoding, storage, and retrieval of the messages displayed in each clip?
How does an opposing appeal affect physiological responses?--At the same time, the facial muscles may give a clue as to how the viewer is reacting. If the individual is paying attention to the appetitive appeal, the zygomatic (smiling) muscles will likely be more active than the corrugator (frowning) muscles. Likewise, if an individual is paying attention to the aversive appeal, the opposite would occur. However, it is unknown as of this point how a viewer will divide their attention. Therefore, a strong conclusion cannot be made and the second research question is asked:
RQ2: Which physiological response will be dominant for opposing appeals? Which responses will be dominant for similar appeals?
How do opposing appeals affect the brand?--As stated earlier, little is known about the effects of a news crawl on advertising, yet it is a common practice today. Bergen, Grimes, and Potter (2005) stated that through a process called perceptual grouping, a viewer may assimilate all images into one message. However, Consoli (2009) stated that some advertisers believe that news crawl may keep viewers watching during commercial breaks. This can pose a problem if the news crawl affects the brand in a negative way. Is it possible that a crawl with an aversive appeal will make a viewer averse to the commercial, brand, or product? There is little research to suggest that crawls do or do not affect the commercial; therefore, the third research question is asked:
RQ3: How does appeal affect the brand/commercial/product image? Specifically, does a competing appeal affect the chosen appeal for the brand image? Does a congruent appeal perpetuate the chosen appeal for the brand image?
Finally, Bergen, Grimes, and Potter (2005) and Consoli (2009) noted that advertisers and executives believe that news crawls may keep a viewer watching during the commercial breaks because they may be offering new information. If this is true, the practice of playing news crawls underneath commercials could be of high value to advertisers, and therefore could mean that certain stations could profit immensely. However, if the opposite is true, and it is unnecessary to play a news crawl to keep viewers during a commercial, advertisers may wish to shy away from this programming in order to grab the viewer's full attention. Little communication research has focused on this phenomenon; therefore, research question four is asked:
RQ4: Do news crawls keep viewers watching during commercial breaks?
Participants consisted of 50 (n = 31 women, n = 19 men) undergraduate students across academic ranks (n = 26 freshmen, n =13 sophomores, n = 9 junior, n = 2 seniors) enrolled in an introductory mass communication course at a large southeastern university. Their ages ranged from 18 to 30 years (M = 19.80, SD = 1.89). The majority described themselves as Caucasian (76%), followed by 8% African American, 4% Multi-Ethnic, and 2% Hispanic; 10% did not report ethnicity.
This study used a 3 (crawl: no crawl, appetitive, or aversive) X 3 (commercial appeal: sex, humor, or fear) between subjects factorial design. A total of six commercials (two humor appeal commercials, two sex appeal commercials, and two fear appeal commercials) and twelve news crawl messages (six appetitive messages and six aversive messages) were utilized. Each clip contained only one commercial and only one news crawl message. Each participant viewed six clips. Three random presentation orders were created. Participants were assigned to only one order. News crawl messages were randomly assigned to only one commercial; however, each commercial had two news crawl messages randomly assigned to it, depending on the group. For example, one of the humor commercials would have one appetitive crawl assigned and one aversive crawl assigned. Each participant viewed one aversive crawl and one appetitive crawl per appeal (except those in the control group; they viewed no crawl). The aversive crawls consisted of statements offering threats. These crawls would include statements about water being poisoned, natural disasters occurring, etc. The appetitive crawls would include statements offering rewards. These crawls would include statements about tuition refunds, free football tickets, etc. This research was completed concurrently with another study.
A pretest was conducted in order to determine the appropriate stimulus material for this research. Participants (n = 18; with similar demographics to those participants in the study) were asked to rate approximately twelve commercials and thirty news crawl messages for their appeals. Specifically, participants were asked if a commercial had fearful images, humorous images, or sexual images; participants were also asked to rate each news crawl message on a Likert-type scale from 1 to 7 regarding statements such as "This makes me feel good" and "I want to avoid this happening to me," among other statements. The highest rated were chosen for inclusion in the stimulus material. Real commercials of real brands were employed; however, all news crawl messages were created for this study.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups and one of three presentation orders. One group was used as a control to determine the feelings that participants had for each commercial without the news crawl in order to gain a better comparison. Ten participants were assigned to the control group while twenty each were assigned to the test groups. Participants were studied one by one. Only one researcher interacted with the participants at any given time, sticking to a strict script. Participants were asked to report to a waiting room until the researcher called upon them to be studied (no participants interacted with each other). After being called upon, participants followed the researcher to the room where they would be studied. This room contained one large chair, one large screen television, and a two way mirror with which the researcher could observe participants as they completed the study. Participants were asked to take a seat in the large chair (situated approximately eight feet from the large screen television) and relax for a few minutes while the researcher collected materials. After participants signed a consent form, the procedure was immediately described to them. All participants agreed to fully take part in the experiment. After agreeing, participants were asked to wash their arms and face. Then the researcher attached electrodes to their arms (in order to study heart rate; this was used for a concurrent study), their left cheek (for zygomatic muscle activation measurement), and their left forehead (for corrugator muscle activation measurement).
Each participant was given a packet of six two page surveys. They were instructed to fill out one survey after each clip was shown (the order of presentation was randomized to control for effects), and to stay completely still while viewing each clip. Each clip contained a six second black screen before and after each clip in order to gain baseline measurements. Each clip was thirty seconds long. Therefore, each participant viewed six clips of 42 seconds in length. During these 42 seconds, physiological measurements were recorded (all data was cleaned of any anomalies or movements by the participant). Each measurement consisted of three separate measures: the baseline (the first six seconds), the clip itself (the middle thirty seconds), and the final six seconds. Over each time, the overall corrugator and zygomatic reaction was averaged and compared to the baseline, each other, etc., in similar fashion to Lang, Greenwald, Bradley, and Hamm (1993). These data were used for analysis and were used to determine the immediate psychological reactions to each clip. After each clip, the participant was asked to complete one survey. This survey consisted of the Self-Assessment Mannequin (Bradley, 1994). This measure was used to determine the immediate thoughtful reactions each participant had to each clip as a whole. After completion of the physiological portion of the study, participants were asked to complete another survey. This survey consisted of measures of encoding, storage, and retrieval similar to those suggested by Lang (2009), as well as demographic information. Participants were then told that they had completed the study and may leave if they chose.
Two survey measures were employed in this research. Participants were first asked to complete the Self-Assessment Mannequin (SAM; Bradley, 1994) after viewing each clip. Therefore, this measure was completed a total of six times by each participant. The SAM measures emotions from a dimensional perspective, specifically, through pleasantness and arousal. Each dimension was measured in this study. Both dimensions, pleasantness ([alpha] = .88, M = 4.28, SD = 1.66) and arousal ([alpha] = .90, M = 3.41, SD = 0.95) achieved acceptable reliability. At the end of each survey, the participant was asked if they had previous experience with this brand; however, this made no difference in analysis.
The second measure all participants were asked to complete consisted of sections used to test encoding, storage, and retrieval, as suggested by Lang (2009). Participants completed this survey at the end of the experiment. First, they were asked to complete a recall questionnaire in which they were asked to write down all of the information that they could remember about each clip. This was exhaustively coded categorically in four ways: participant recalled nothing, participant recalled the news crawl only, participant recalled the commercial only, and participant recalled both the news crawl and the commercial. The next section was a slight deviation from the suggestions of Lang (2009); however, it was deemed appropriate as a measure of cued recall. Lang stated that storage is best measured through a test of cued recall; therefore, participants were given a 12-question multiple choice exam about each commercial and each news crawl. This was used a technique to prevent participant fatigue, as they had just been asked to free recall everything they could remember about the previous clip. Each question contained three incorrect answers and one correct answer. Six questions were asked about the commercials and six were asked about the news crawl messages. These questions were coded as either correct or incorrect. Finally, Lang (2009) stated that encoding be tested through recognition tests; by asking if the participant had recognized or seen something during the previous clip. Therefore, participants were given a list of 24 items and asked to check which they had seen in the previous clips. Each was coded as either correct or incorrect; however, this step was taken a step farther. Participants were also coded on a macro-level and a micro-level. Participants were coded as encoding: all information correctly, no information correctly, only the commercials correctly, or only the news crawls correctly. Commercials and news crawls were also included and were coded as encoding: the commercial incorrectly, the crawl incorrectly, the entire commercial correctly or the entire news crawl message correctly. At the end of this survey, the participants were asked if a news crawl would keep them watching a channel through the commercials. These answers were coded as either yes or no. Everything was coded as either a zero or a one.
This research has forwarded multiple hypotheses, with many possible derivations of each. For the sake of brevity, only the main effects and significant statistics will be reported. Many relationships were tested; however, many relationships were found to be insignificant.
Hypothesis one forwarded that participants will have higher encoding, storage, and retrieval scores for appetitive commercials run over aversive news crawls. Because all variables are categorical level data, the most appropriate statistic is a chi-square analysis. This analysis was broken down as far as testing the differences between each appeal and the differences between each commercial; however, no significant results were found. Therefore, only the appeals as a whole are reported. All appetitive commercials with aversive crawls were tested for encoding scores, storage scores, and retrieval scores of both the commercials and the crawls. There were a total of 80 cases of an appetitive commercial run over an aversive crawl.
Part one of hypothesis one forwarded a difference in encoding between appetitive commercials and aversive crawls; in that appetitive commercials would be more memorable than the aversive crawl. Results of a chi-square analysis did not support this hypothesis ([chi square] (3) = 5.29, p = .10).
Part two of hypothesis one forwarded a difference in storage between appetitive commercials and aversive crawls; in that appetitive commercials would be more memorable than the aversive crawl. Results of a chi-square analysis did not support this hypothesis ([chi square] (2) = 2.81, p = .25).
Part three of hypothesis one forwarded a difference in retrieval between appetitive commercials and aversive crawls; in that appetitive commercials would be more memorable than the aversive crawl. Results of a chi-square analysis did not support this hypothesis ([chi square] (3) = 7.09, p = .13).
Hypothesis two forwarded that participants will have higher encoding, storage, and retrieval scores for appetitive news crawls run under aversive commercials. This was analyzed in a similar fashion to hypothesis one, in that many avenues were considered. However, only the main effects and significant results will be reported. There were a total of 40 cases in which an appetitive crawl ran underneath an aversive commercial.
Part one of hypothesis two forwarded a difference in encoding between aversive commercials and appetitive crawls; in that appetitive crawls would be more memorable than the aversive commercial. Results of a chi-square analysis did not support this hypothesis ([chi square] (3) = 3.67, p = .30).
Part two of hypothesis two forwarded a difference in storage between aversive commercials and appetitive crawls; in that appetitive crawls would be more memorable than the aversive commercial. Results of a chi-square analysis did not support this hypothesis ([chi square] (2) = 2.32, p = .25).
Part three of hypothesis two forwarded a difference in retrieval between aversive commercials and appetitive crawls; in that appetitive crawls would be more memorable than the aversive commercial. Results of a chi-square analysis did not support this hypothesis ([chi square] (4) = 112, p = .37). The results of the hypotheses suggest that no self-reported memorable differences occurred when a competing crawl was run.
Similarly, research question one asked how will similar appeals of the commercials and crawls affect the encoding, storage, and retrieval of the messages displayed in each clip? Specifically, will similar appeals perpetuate the appeal of the commercial? This was tested in a similar manner to both hypotheses one and two, in that it is analyzing categorical data and many scenarios have been taken into consideration. However, no significant results were found, therefore, only the main effects will be reported. There were 120 cases in which similar appeals were used for both the crawl and the commercial. There were 80 cases of appetitive commercials over appetitive crawls and 40 cases of aversive commercials over aversive crawls. Chi-square analyses were used to analyze both types of cases. No significant results were found. Therefore, it is likely that the appeal employed in the crawl does not affect the memory for the brand or commercial. But does it affect the emotions toward the brand?
Research question two asked which physiological response will be dominant for opposing appeals? Which responses will be dominant for similar appeals? Recall that measures of zygomatic and corrugator activity were averaged. These measures were taken during the clip and during the baseline. The clip average was taken from the baseline average and this comparison is dubbed the difference score. The difference scores will be utilized in the following analyses.
Part one of research question two will consider the muscle activity of appetitive commercials run over aversive crawls and compare them to the same commercials of the control group. As stated earlier, there were a total of 80 cases of appetitive commercials run over aversive crawls. There were a total of 40 cases of these commercials in the control group. For zygomatic activity, results of a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) indicate that there is no significant difference between test group zygomatic activity and control group zygomatic activity (F (2, 48) = 1.51, p = .23). For corrugator activity, results of a one-way ANOVA indicate that there is no significant difference between test group corrugator activity and control group corrugator activity (F (2, 48) = 1.25, p = .30).
Part two of research question two will consider the muscle activity of aversive commercials run over appetitive crawls and compare them to the same commercials of the control group. As stated earlier, there were a total of 40 cases of aversive commercials run over appetitive crawls. There were a total of 20 cases of these commercials in the control group. For zygomatic activity, results of a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) indicate that there is no significant difference between test group zygomatic activity and control group zygomatic activity (F (2, 48) = .78, p = .46). For corrugator activity, results of a one-way ANOVA indicate that there is no significant difference between test group corrugator activity and control group corrugator activity (F (2, 48) = .81, p = .45).
Part three of research question two will consider the muscle activity of similar appeals and compare them to the same commercials of the control group. As stated earlier, there were a total of 120 cases of similar appeals in the test groups (80 appetitive and 40 aversive). There were a total of 60 cases of these commercials in the control group (40 appetitive and 20 aversive). Results of the appetitive commercials: For zygomatic activity, results of a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) indicate that there is no significant difference between test group zygomatic activity and control group zygomatic activity (F (2, 48) = .11, p = .89). For corrugator activity, results of a one-way ANOVA indicate that there is no significant difference between test group corrugator activity and control group corrugator activity (F (2, 48) = .09, p = .91). Results of the aversive commercials: For zygomatic activity, results of a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) indicate that there is no significant difference between test group zygomatic activity and control group zygomatic activity (F (2, 48) = 1.04, p = .36). For corrugator activity, results of a one-way ANOVA indicate that there is no significant difference between test group corrugator activity and control group corrugator activity (F (2, 48) = 1.23, p = .30). These results suggest that no physiological differences arose when comparing the commercial without a news crawl message to the same commercial with a news crawl message.
Research question three asked how does appeal affect the brand/commercial/product image? Specifically, does a competing appeal affect the chosen appeal for the brand image? Does a congruent appeal perpetuate the chosen appeal for the brand image? In order to analyze these questions, data from the SAM measurements were compared across commercials and crawls in various combinations. The SAM is a two-dimensional measure of emotion (arousal and pleasantness).
Part one of research question three asked if there is a significant difference between appetitive commercials with aversive crawls against the control for arousal? Results of a t-test analysis indicate there is no significant difference (t (121) = .14, p = .89). Is there a significant difference between appetitive commercials with aversive crawls against the control for pleasantness? Results of an ANOVA indicate there is no significant difference (t (126) = .36, p = .73).
Part two of research question three asked if there a significant difference between aversive commercials with appetitive crawls against the control for arousal? Results of an ANOVA indicate there is no significant difference (t (95) = .69, p = .48). Is there a significant difference between appetitive commercials with aversive crawls against the control for pleasantness? Results of an ANOVA indicate there is no significant difference (t (99) = 1.02, p = .31).
Part three of research question three asked if there a significant difference between clips with similar appeals against the control for arousal? Results of an ANOVA indicate there is no significant difference (F (2, 166) = 1.19, p = .31). Is there a significant difference between clips with similar appeals against the control for pleasantness? Results of an ANOVA indicate there is no significant difference (F (2, 173) = .83, p = .44). These results suggest that no differences exist for any variable, no matter the appeal. Because the commercial is largely unaffected by crawl, it is interesting to determine if individuals will continue watching the commercials if a crawl is playing.
Research question four asked if news crawls keep viewers watching during commercial breaks. Participants were asked if they would continue to watch the channel they were viewing during a commercial break if a news crawl were playing underneath the commercials. In total, 80% of participants (n = 40) claimed that they would continue to watch that channel if they played a news crawl, while only 20% of participants (n = 10) claimed they would change the station no matter what. These findings suggest that not only are commercials unaffected by the news crawl, in terms of emotion and memory for the messages, but they also keep viewers watching during the breaks.
This research took into account the effects of news crawls on a television advertisement by testing memory and emotion toward the advertisement. Further, this research tested the ability of a news crawl to keep viewers watching during the commercial breaks. It was found that news crawl do not affect the television advertisement in any way, but they do keep the viewer watching during breaks. Therefore, playing a news crawl during commercial breaks may be beneficial to both the advertiser and the television channel itself.
Interestingly, these results seem to slightly differ from the results from by Bergen, Grimes, and Potter (2005). In visually complex conditions, participants were found to lose 10% of the information learned in the news programming they had viewed. However, in this study, there were no differences in memory for any condition. This is likely easily explained: the visuals used in this study were not very complex as compared to the visuals employed by Bergen, Grimes, and Potter. The participants were not inundated with visual information; most advertisements have a short, narrative-type structure in which the viewer follows the main characters or brand throughout the commercial, likely aiding in recall. Because little integral visual information was introduced, participants could easily remember the information gained from each clip.
Secondly, no physiological differences arose between the control group and the test groups. This suggests that news crawls have little influence on the reactions to each clip. Perhaps the visuals presented by the commercial were more vivid, and therefore more likely to elicit reaction. Because the news crawls were simple black and white statements that introduced some new information in writing rather than in visuals, they would be more likely to be considered neutral images. It has often been reported that neutral images are less likely to influence and elicit a response than emotional images (Codispoti, Bradley, & Lang, 2001; Ferrari, Bradley, Codispoti, & Lang, 2011). It is likely that participants viewed the emotional images of the commercials and reacted to them, rather than reacting to the news crawls. However, participants had little trouble remembering the news crawls as well as the commercials, so it is unlikely that they just ignored the news crawls.
Third, no differences emerged between groups for affect. The news crawls did not seem to affect the emotions tied to the commercials; be it by competing appeals or perpetuating appeals. Participants were seemingly able to separate the two. This is similar to the findings of Bergen, Grimes, and Potter (2005), who found that participants did not perceptually group the images, and scrutinized each message as separate sources. This is very interesting in that Bergen, Grimes, and Potter found that news producers were being irresponsible by adding many layers to their news programming. However, it may be highly effective and useful to add at least one more layer to advertising. Because the crawl seemed to have almost no effect on the commercial, it is possible that it may be helpful for the commercial.
Finally, it was found that 80% of participants reported that they would continue to watch a channel through the commercials simply because a news crawl was playing. This layer could possibly add many more viewers to commercial advertisements; something that is of very high value to advertisers. Krugman and Cameron (1995) found that viewers were visually fixated on television programming 62% of the time and on commercials 33% of the time. Not only that, but Gustafson and Siddarth (2007) reported that channel changing had become a growing problem during commercials in the 1980s and 1990s. Perhaps adding a news crawl can help to boost attention to commercial advertisements. Similarly, and more recently, Smith and Gevins (2004), and Bolls, Muehling, and Yoon (2003) found that higher amounts of structure and pacing could elicit higher amounts of attention from the viewer. Perhaps adding a news crawl is a useful way to keep viewer's attention during the commercial breaks.
In summary, no memory or emotional effects were found to be caused by news crawls on commercials. In fact, it may be possible that running a news crawl underneath a commercial would be advantageous.
The greatest limitation of this experiment is the nature in which it was completed. An experiment is almost always lacking in external validity, and this is possibly true in this scenario as well. Participants were asked to watch clips in a laboratory environment; something completely unlike their normal experience while watching television. This may have affected memory scores in a very important way. It may be necessary in the future to replicate this experiment in a real world setting.
Secondly, this experiment was completed concurrently with another research project. This introduced other variables into the experiment that could have played a part in the findings of this experiment. It is unlikely that these played a role in the effects observed here; however, it is still possible and future research may replicate this experiment with full control.
This experiment offers a wide variety of avenues for future research. Broadly, the area of news crawls played under television commercials has been lightly observed and is ripe for all types of new research. In reference to this experiment, it may be interesting to test these same variables in a more focused environment. For example, it may be interesting to test humor appeals of all sorts, or to test brands and products of all sorts. Finally, it may be interesting to look at different types of news crawls, from hard news to soft news and even breaking news.
Similar research can be applied to online ads as well as ads on phone apps. How does the user feel about a brand during a particularly frustrating game? Many avenues of research are open in this line.
In conclusion, this experiment found that news crawls had little to no effect on commercial memory and affect; however, it did seem to keep viewers watching through the commercials. This suggests that news crawls may help to keep attention on television commercials, and keep viewers watching. This could be very important to advertisers that pay large amounts of money to play their commercials. Knowing that a crawl does not affect the commercial, but it does bring in more viewers can be very valuable information to advertisers.
Thomas Meade, Ph.D.
Department of Communication
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT 06269. USA
Journalism & Creative Media
University of Alabama
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Thomas Meade *, Shuhua Zhou **
* University of Connecticut, USA, ** University of Alabama, USA
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|Author:||Meade, Thomas; Zhou, Shuhua|
|Publication:||China Media Research|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2017|
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