A New Perspective on the Effects of Advertising Repetition: the Mediating Role of Memory Structure

[ to cite ]:
(1993) ,"A New Perspective on the Effects of Advertising Repetition: the Mediating Role of Memory Structure", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, eds. Leigh McAlister and Michael L. Rothschild, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 26.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 20, 1993    Page 26


Karen Finlay, University of Guelph

[The author gratefully acknowledges the insightful comments provided by the session discussant, Rajeev Batra (University of Michigan).]

Studies on the effects of message repetition have been dominated by wearin-wearout and mere exposure paradigms. These models argue that learning, support argumentation, and attitude valence first increase in response to message exposure, but with further repetition, wearout or overlearning sets in, counter argumentation increases, and attitude valence declines. While numerous supporting results have been reported, disparate findings have also appeared. Because work on repetition effects has been focused on the study of outcome variables alone, inconsistent findings have not been understood.

It was proposed in this session that the effects of exposure frequency can be better understood by explicitly examining the effects of message repetition on memory structure. A general hypothesis across the three papers is that repetition influences evaluations and other outcome measures via its mediating influence on aspects of information stored in memory: the extent to which memory structure becomes interconnected (links are formed among stored items); the extent to which paths to existing stored items are strengthened, rendering that information more accessible; and the extent to which items become clustered in memory when they are stored. It was argued that when the effects of repetition on memory structure are considered, a better understanding is obtained of the amount and type of information that is recalled to form the basis of reported evaluations, thereby explaining why attitude valence is not always consistent with predictions of the wearin-wearout paradigm.

All three papers examined the mediating influence of memory structure on the message repetition-outcome measure relationship. Repetition of either the entire ad or repetition of information within the ad were manipulated. By considering effects on memory structure, Prashant Malaviya (University of Illinois) was able to explain why inconsistent effects of repetition may have been found in the past. If item-specific processing does not occur to render distinctive brand properties highly accessible, attitude valence may not have been influenced. By considering memory structure, Ida Berger (University of Toronto) was able to explain why repetition and the amount of information presented influence attitude-behaviour consistency without necessarily influencing attitudes per se. Finally, by considering memory structure, Karen Finlay (University of Guelph) was able to explain why repeating incongruent information within the context of a single ad does not negatively impact brand evaluations, but increases the amount of information recalled, even above that obtained when an entire ad is repeated containing only congruent information.

The three studies begin to identify the mediating role of memory structure on the repetition-outcome variable relationship that has traditionally been studied. The session demonstrated that advertisers need to consider the mediating role of memory structure in order to maximize the effects of repetition.