The conscious and non-conscious effects of context in advertising

Peter Andersson & Jesper Ring Jakobsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


In today’s fast moving society, the amount of commercial and noncommercial messages consumers can be expected to encounter on a daily basis is enormous. One of the most salient and omnipresent platforms for market communications is advertising. In the face of a new marketing landscape, and with the emergence of an interesting range of new market research techniques, advertising is facing some interesting challenges. One such challenge is to better understand how the context of advertising affects the single ad - a question that in many traditional models of marketing communication is neglected as ads are often analyzed in isolation. Leaning on a body of theory from marketing communication combined with more recent theories from social psychology and neuromarketing, some contradictory assumptions about consumer and the mechanisms behind advertising is discussed. By using both biometric tools and self-report measures, two experiments were conducted to gain insight into the complex matter of contextual effects. More specifically, consumers conscious and non-conscious reactions to different advertisements placed in a specific context were investigated. The main method of data acquisition has been through pupil size measurement via eye-tracking and related rating tasks in a laboratory setting. The findings from the experiments presented suggests that context does matter. Automatic, nonconscious reactions such as arousal were, for the majority of investigated advertisements, affected by the context in which they were placed. Conscious evaluations were also affected, however, to a much smaller degree. The findings also indicate that the traditional way of conducting market research might be inadequate for gaining truly meaningful data. The implications, both in an academic and a more market oriented perspective, are discussed. Finally, a revised framework of the value based model of choice, incorporating the influence of external stimuli (such as context) is suggested.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages135