1 results for Aitken, Robert Walter

  • Re-conceptualising television advertising typologies

    Aitken, Robert Walter (2004-12)

    Doctoral thesis
    University of Otago

    This thesis presents a new typology of television advertising that re-orientates existing research into advertising effectiveness and more accurately reflects new directions in communication theory. The typology provides a consumer-centric approach to analysing television advertisements and a different conceptualisation of the advertising response process. Conventional research into advertising effectiveness has examined almost every aspect of the advertising mix to identify what makes an advertisement effective. The research is based on a number of assumptions. For example, mass communication is seen as a linear process with the advertiser at one end of a communication continuum and the consumer at the other. The function of advertising, in this reception paradigm, is to inform and then to influence the consumer and measures of its success include accuracy of recall and recognition. This process of persuasion comprises a number of hierarchical steps that should lead to purchase or to a positive propensity to purchase. The power of persuasion is related to the level of involvement between the advertised product and the potential customer and with the appropriateness of the advertised message and its execution. For example, elements such as music, humour and the use of celebrities have been studied to assess their persuasive powers and to understand their communication effects. This thesis takes a different approach to understanding how advertising works and makes a number of different assumptions. According to this thesis, before it is possible to study the effects of advertising, it is necessary to find out how people respond to it. This introduces the three key concepts that underpin this thesis. These are reader-response theory, personal construct theory and uses and gratifications theory. Reader-response theory suggests that the meaning and significance of any form of communication is co-created at the point of engagement. The meaning of a television advertisement, for example, is located, not in the advertisement itself, as in conventional research, but in the interaction between the advertisement and the viewer. The meanings that result in this process of negotiation are as much a reflection of personal, social and cultural experience as they are a response to particular executional and message strategies. To understand how consumers make sense of these communication texts it is necessary to study them at the point of reception. The second key concept, personal construct theory, proposes that the way individuals make sense of their experiences and understand the world is determined by the personal constructs that they hold. Identifying these constructs will enable researchers to understand the meanings that consumers attach to communication messages and to focus more fundamentally on the psychological basis of the response process than on its individual components. Studying advertising effectiveness in the context of personal construct theory places the consumer at the centre of the response process and focuses attention on how meaning is negotiated. This has a number of important implications for practioners both in relation to the construction of television advertisements and in understanding consumers' responses to them. For example, practioners need to recognise the importance of producing television advertisements that address their audience as readers of media texts rather than merely as consumers of media products. This re-conceptualising of the audience is clearly articulated in uses and gratifications theory, the third key concept in this study. Uses and gratifications theory, suggests that it is as important to understand what consumers do with advertising as it is to study what advertising does to consumers. This is in contrast to the emphasis on persuasion strategies in conventional advertising research. Reader-response theory, personal construct theory and uses and gratifications theory suggest a more dynamic relationship between an advertisement and a consumer than is recognised by conventional research. These theories are encapsulated in a new typology of television advertising presented in this thesis.

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