The Effects of Editorial Context and Cognitive and Affective Moderators on Responses to Embedded Ads

Keith S. Coulter, University of Connecticut
Murphy A. Sewall, University of Connecticut
[ to cite ]:
Keith S. Coulter and Murphy A. Sewall (1995) ,"The Effects of Editorial Context and Cognitive and Affective Moderators on Responses to Embedded Ads", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 22, eds. Frank R. Kardes and Mita Sujan, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 177-183.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 22, 1995      Pages 177-183

THE EFFECTS OF EDITORIAL CONTEXT AND COGNITIVE AND AFFECTIVE MODERATORS ON RESPONSES TO EMBEDDED ADS

Keith S. Coulter, University of Connecticut

Murphy A. Sewall, University of Connecticut

This paper utilizes two experiments within a print media setting to examine the manner in which contextual involvement effects may be moderated by a number of key variables including affective tone of the article and ad (i.e. affective consistency), cognitive priming of relevant attributes, and involvement in the advertisement. Results indicate that editorial context involvement has a negative impact on attitude toward the ad (Aad). This relationship is moderated by the interactive effects of affective consistency and ad involvement. Cognitive priming was found to interact with editorial involvement in influencing attitude toward the brand, but not Aad. The results have important implications in terms of achieving the appropriate "match" between editorial content and advertising message.

In today's fast-paced, information-oriented world, advertisers are increasingly competing for consumers' attention. As advertising costs escalate, brand choices proliferate, and the consumer is bombarded by product claims within an ever broadening array of media channels, the advertising practitioner must be acutely aware of factors influencing message effectiveness. One of the factors that has received considerable attention in the literature is "editorial," "program," or "advertising" context (Lord and Burnkrandt 1993; Yi 1993; Norris and Colman 1992). The first term is generally applied to print media (e.g., Soldow and Principe 1981), whereas "program context" is more often applied to broadcast media (e.g., Murry, Lastovicka, and Singh 1992). "Advertising context" may be thought of as a generic term that is applicable to either print or broadcast media.

An important issue involved in decisions on the selection of an appropriate context for advertisements deals with the context's influence on ad and product evaluations. A number of studies suggest that ad context can influence the audience's perception of an advertisement, and thus, its effectiveness (Singh and Churchill 1987; Soldow and Principe 1981). Both program and editorial context have been examined in terms of a number of key variables including involvement (Lord and Burnkrandt 1993), program induced affect (Goldberg and Gorn 1987; Kamins, Marks, and Skinner 1991), program "liking" (Murry, Lastovicka, and Singh 1992), and cognitive and affective priming (Yi 1990, 1993).

This paper utilizes a print media setting to examine the manner in which contextual involvement effects may be moderated by a number of key factors including three of the variables listed above: 1) affective tone of the article and ad, 2) cognitive priming of relevant attributes, and c) involvement in the advertisement. While each of these variables has been examined individually, specific interaction effects have not been investigated. Further, this research extends the investigation of editorial context involvement effects to include not only measures of recall and recognition (e.g. Norris and Colman 1992) but also attitudes toward the ad (Aad) and brand (Ab).

PROGRAM OR EDITORIAL INVOLVEMENT

Program (i.e. broadcast) or editorial (i.e. print) context involvement refers to the degree of commitment of cognitive resources to the contextual material (Norris and Colman 1992; Soldow and Principe 1981). The negative impact of program involvement on commercial message processing has been demonstrated by a number of researchers (Bryant & Comiskey 1978; Soldow and Principe 1981). In these studies, television viewers demonstrated better recall of commercial content when they were less involved in the program. Lord and Burnkrandt (1988), who observed response times prior to and during advertising commercials, concluded that highly involving program content may induce viewers to commit a large proportion of available attention to its processing, thus reducing the efficiency with which they can encode and store information presented by a commercial. While high program involvement may effectively activate attentional resources, it may hinder viewers' ability to process an advertisement by directing those resources toward the contextual program stimuli at the expense of a shift in attentional focus toward the new (advertising) message. In a more recent study, Lord and Burnkrandt (1993) found that both program involvement and dramatic attentional devices used in television advertisements, based on their interaction with one another and with viewers' processing motivation, have the capacity to enhance or hinder the generation of viewer thoughts relevant to ad messages (i.e. ad cognitions).

The apparent disadvantage of high context involvement has also been demonstrated in studies using print media (i.e. editorial context). It would seem logical for this to be the case, since readers of print media have control over the speed of information processing. A magazine reader who is involved in an article can easily skip over any embedded advertisements and continue reading without any appreciable delay, thereby continuing to attend to the absorbing material basically without interruption. An involved television viewer, on the other hand, is forced to stop viewing the program during the commercial break. Consequently he or she may be more likely to assimilate some of the advertising message. Thus one might hypothesize that the effects of contextual involvement may be even greater in the case of print media. Although the two types of media have not been directly compared in the literature, Norris & Colman (1992) did find that subjects' involvement in magazine articles yielded a negative correlation with measures of recall, recognition, and global memory for the accompanying advertisements.

Measures of recall and recognition consist of cognitive responses that involve the generation of thoughts relevant to ad messages (i.e. ad cognitions). Since the direct causal impact of ad cognitions on Aad, and of Aad on Ab, have been well documented within the ad effects literature (Brown and Stayman 1992; MacKenzie, Lutz, and Belch 1986), we expect the negative influence of editorial context involvement to carry over to measures of ad and brand attitude. Therefore, we posit:

H1a: High editorial context involvement will result in less favorable Aad and Ab.

H1b: Low editorial context involvement will result in more favorable Aad and Ab.

MODERATING VARIABLES

Cognitive Priming

Research has demonstrated that the advertising context can prime or activate certain attributes to readers (viewers/listeners), and guide their interpretations of product information in the ad (Yi 1990; Wyer and Srull 1981; Higgins and King 1981). These interpretations may result in the formation or change of beliefs about the advertised brand, which will affect brand evaluations (Mitchell and Olson 1981). The process affects ad effectiveness primarily by increasing the accessibility of attributes from memory (e.g., "bringing the attribute to mind"). When the advertising context provides exposure to a certain attribute, the attribute becomes accessible and is subsequently more likely to be used in processing ad information and evaluating the advertised brand. If this attribute has positive implications for the evaluation of the advertised brand, overall brand evaluations should be enhanced. In contrast, if the primed attribute has negative implications for the advertised brand, overall brand evaluations should be diminished. Finally, if the primed attribute has evaluative implications that are unrelated to the product, overall brand evaluations should not be affected.

In a related test of this concept utilizing print advertisements, Yi (1990) found that after exposure to an ad emphasizing the large size of a car, subjects' (Ab) and purchase intention (PI) differed as a function of the attribute activated by the ad context. Specifically, Ab and PI were higher when the attribute of safety (as opposed to fuel economy) was made salient in the article preceding the ad.

It was hypothesized that while high program involvement may effectively activate attentional resources, it may hinder readers' ability to process an advertisement by directing those resources toward the contextual stimuli at the expense of a shift in attentional focus toward the new (advertising) message. But the priming of a related attribute should enhance subjects' ability to shift attentional focus, since the subject of that focus (i.e. the concept related to the advertising message) has already been accessed or activated from memory. Therefore an advertising context which primes attributes that are either positively or negatively associated with the advertised attribute, and have either positive or negative implications for the advertised brand (i.e. positive/negative priming) should serve to moderate (i.e. lessen) the negative relationship between context involvement and Aad. Positive and negative priming are not expected to have the same impact upon Ab, however, either in terms of direct (main) effects or interactions with context involvement. In this case, research has demonstrated that negative priming will have a deleterious influence upon brand evaluations (Yi 1990; 1993). The following hypotheses are proposed:

H2a: When context involvement is high, both positive and negative cognitive priming will result in more favorable ad evaluations (Aad) than neutral cognitive priming.

H2b: When context involvement is low, there will be no difference in ad evaluations (Aad) among the positive, negative, and/or neutral cognitive priming groups.

H2c: When context involvement is high, positive cognitive priming will result in more favorable brand evaluations (Ab), and negative cognitive priming will result in less favorable brand evaluations than neutral cognitive priming.

Program Induced Affect and the Affective Tone of the Ad

Advertising context can be negatively or positively valenced and can trigger affective reactions (e.g., feelings or moods). This overall affect generated by the context can be transferred to one's Aad, which can subsequently influence brand evaluations (Lutz 1985; MacKenzie, Lutz, and Belch 1986; Erdley and D'Agostino 1988). Many studies suggest that mood states influence evaluations and judgments in mood congruent directions (Isen and Shalker 1982; Veitch and Griffitt 1976). This would imply that, in most cases, commercials should be more effective if embedded in programs which are upbeat, positive, and happy. In a related study, Goldberg and Gorn (1987) found that, compared to commercials viewed in the context of a sad program, commercials viewed in the context of a happy television program resulted in a happier overall mood, more positive cognitive responses about the commercials, and greater perceived commercial effectiveness. In a study involving embedded print advertisements, Yi (1990) found that affective priming of the ad context (i.e., the affective tone of a magazine article) significantly influenced advertising effectiveness. Subjects' Aad and PI were higher when the affective tone of the article was positive, as opposed to when it was negative.

Other studies, however, have indicated that positive program induced affect may not always result in increased advertising effectiveness. For example, Murry, Lastovicka, and Singh (1992) found that program induced feelings were unrelated to Aad. Similarly, Lord and Burnkrandt (1993) found that program induced mood did not have an effect on cognitive ad processing. In addition, the popularity of programs eliciting negative feelings (e.g. a tragedy or soap opera), and the apparent success of various ads embedded within these programs, suggest that other factors must be taken into consideration in explaining the effects of program induced affect.

One such factor that has received attention in the literature is affective tone of the advertisement. In a recent study, happy commercials were found to be more favorably evaluated in the context of a happy program, whereas sad commercials were more effective in the context of a sad program (Kamins, Marks, and Skinner 1991). In attempting to explain this "consistency effect" within a broadcast media setting, researchers have suggested that compared to people in neutral moods, people who are in positive or negative (e.g. sad) moods tend to be more altruistic (Cialdini, Darby and Vincent 1973; Rogers, Miller, Mayer, and Duval 1982). It is postulated that people who are in a sad mood state have a drive to reduce their negative feelings, and that this may be accomplished by engaging in mood elevating behaviors such as altruistic behavior. Presumably the negative (e.g. sad) commercial allows the viewers to experience this altruistic response by vicariously participating in the assuagement of the negative condition that is portrayed. Thus when consumers feel sadness or empathy for other people, they may react positively to an advertisement that is consistent with their mood.

The Consistency Effects model implies that the "match" between affective tone of the program and ad will have a direct impact upon Aad, due to some type of empathic response (Kamins, Marks, and Skinner 1991). To our knowledge, this effect has not been demonstrated or examined within a print media setting. Indeed, it seems unlikely that the same level of empathic catharsis would occur while reading a magazine. However, in the latter case, it is possible that affective consistency may indirectly influence ad attitudes. Bower (1981) has postulated that each distinct mood has a particular node available in memory which collects multiple aspects of the mood that are related (e.g. events or occurrences during which that feeling state was aroused). Nodes storing moods can be activated by a variety of stimuli (such as advertising context), which causes a spread of activation to other connected memory nodes. Once a mood state has been aroused, it influences perceptions and information processing. Thus people "attend to" and "learn more about" events (or stimuli) that match their mood state (Bower 1981). The implication is that a reader should react more positively toward a "consistent" ad (i.e. one that matches the affective tone of the editorial context) because attentional resources have previously been activated. Therefore, affective consistency may have the same moderating effect upon editorial involvement as cognitive priming, that is, it may enhance subjects' ability to shift attentional focus. The following hypotheses are proposed:

H3a: When editorial context involvement is high, a consistent affective condition will result in more favorable ad evaluations (Aad) than an inconsistent affective condition.

H3b: When editorial context involvement is low, there will be no difference in Aad between affective consistent and affective inconsistent treatment groups.

Ad Involvement

A third factor that may moderate the effects of editorial involvement on Aad is the consumer's motivation to process the advertisement (MacInnis, Moorman, and Jaworski 1991). A high level of ad processing motivation (i.e. involvement in the ad) may be situationally determined due to some specific task such as advertisement pretesting (Bloch, Ridgway, and Sherrell 1986), or internally generated as a result of inherent interest in the product (Bloch and Richins 1983), interest in the advertisement (Lutz, MacKenzie and Belch 1983), or some combination of these factors. This involvement may be expected to heighten and provide focus to the cognitive processing of the ad (Batra and Ray 1983). A reader who is highly involved in an advertising message presumably possesses sufficient processing motivation (and ability) to voluntarily divert at least some attentional resources from the context to the ad. Since the negative impact of program involvement on Aad results from the inability of highly involved readers to shift attentional focus, ad involvement should serve to moderate (i.e. lessen) this impact. We therefore propose:

H4a: When editorial context involvement is high, high ad involvement will result in more favorable ad evaluations (Aad) than low ad involvement.

H4b: When editorial context involvement is low, there will be no difference in Aad between high and low ad involvement groups.

As mentioned earlier, a high level of ad involvement may be either situationally determined or internally generated as a result of some inherent interest in the product. In the former case, ad execution involvement is said to be high (MacKenzie, Lutz, and Belch 1986). Since consumers devote most of their cognitive resources to ad evaluation, ad cognitions should be the dominant response to stimulus exposure (Lutz 1985), and these cognitions should have a significant impact upon Aad (Madden, Allen, and Twible 1988). On the other hand, when there is an inherent interest in the product, advertising message involvement is said to be high (MacKenzie, Lutz, and Belch 1986). In this case, because consumers tend to focus on product-related messages, brand cognitive responses will be strong (Madden, Allen, and Twible 1988; Mitchell and Olson 1981), and the influence of these brand cognitions on Ab should be increased (Hastak and Olson 1989; Muehling and Laczniak 1988). Since our hypotheses regarding advertising involvement deal with its impact on Aad, rather than Ab, the ad involvement processing instructions in Experiment 2 were designed to manipulate execution involvement.

METHODOLOGY

As stated earlier, we expect editorial involvement to influence advertising evaluations. In addition, positive and negative cognitive priming, affective consistency/inconsistency, and ad involvement are hypothesized to moderate the impact of editorial involvement on Aad and Ab. Although, Aad is posited to mediate the impact of editorial involvement on Ab, this relationship was not directly examined in our study.

Because available contextual stimuli precluded our use of one article to manipulate both cognitive priming and affective consistency, we conducted two experiments. Experiment 1 examined the effects of context involvement (H1a/b) and cognitive priming (H2a/b/c) on both dependent variables. Experiment 2 examined the effects of context involvement (H1a/b), affective consistency (H3a/b), and ad involvement (H4a/b) on Aad. Both experiments utilized print advertisements embedded within magazine articles. The ads, as well as the articles, varied across experiments.

Product Selection

Several criteria were used to select the product for these experiments: 1) the product needed to have several interrelated attributes so that both positive and negative priming effects could be examined, 2) subjects had to have some interest in the product in order to be able to process information in the ads, and 3) the product needed to be described in both cognitive and affective terms in order to assess both cognitive priming and affective consistency. Based upon these considerations and consonant with prior research in the area (Yi 1990; 1993), a new automobile was selected as the test product. Fictitious brand and company names were used to reduce any confounding or bias due to subject familiarity.

Stimuli Development

A pilot test was conducted utilizing a random sample of 50 undergraduate students in order to determine ad content and program context material. Participants were first asked to identify salient attributes of a new automobile. Then, for each attribute, associated attributes were solicited and the perceived relationship was assessed on a bipolar (-10 to +10) scale (John, Scott, and Bettman 1986). Results indicated that fuel efficiency, comfort/roominess, and driving pleasure are salient attributes of a new automobile.

Based on the pilot testing, four ads were constructed. Ad 1, used in the positive cognitive priming manipulation in Experiment 1, highlighted fuel efficiency as the focal attribute. Ad 2, used in the negative cognitive priming manipulation in Experiment 1, highlighted comfort and roominess. Ad 3, a neutral ad used in both Experiments 1 and 2, stressed simple driving pleasure. Ad 4, used in the affective consistent manipulation in Experiment 2, contained less informational copy, a larger illustration, and highlighted the emotional appeal of the product by emphasizing driving "excitement."

Two articles were selected in which to embed the ads. The cognitive priming article utilized for Experiment 1 involved a discussion of the importance of energy conservation amid dwindling global natural and environmental resources. It was assumed that this topic would be positively associated with fuel efficiency (the focal attribute of Ad 1), negatively associated with the comfort/roominess attribute of Ad 2 (i.e. due to the increased gas consumption inherent in operating a large luxury automobile), and unassociated with driving pleasure (the focal attribute of Ad 3).

A warm, humorous article regarding child-rearing was utilized to examine affective consistency in Experiment 2. It was assumed that greater affective consistency would occur when the emotional ad, as opposed to one of the more cognitively-oriented ads (i.e. Ad 3), was embedded within this context. While both the child rearing article and the emotional ad were "positive" in nature, they could be expected to elicit somewhat different emotional reactions (i.e. happiness vs. excitement). Therefore, the degree of affective consistency was assessed for all subjects across both conditions.

Both magazine articles were edited to contain approximately six pages of text. In each case, the appropriate full-page target ad was embedded after page four. The source of the articles did not appear on the stimuli.

EXPERIMENT 1

Design

To test H1 and H2, we conducted a 3 (cognitive priming: positive/negative/neutral) x 2 (context involvement: high/low) between-subjects experiment. A total of 120 undergraduate students at a major Northeastern university participated in the study. There were 20 subjects per cell.

Procedures

First, subjects were randomly assigned to one of the six treatment groups. Then, as part of the context involvement manipulation, subjects were given a set of instructions that varied depending upon treatment group. Subjects in the low context involvement manipulation were told that they were being asked to review an article for use in a subsequent marketing study. Subjects in the high context involvement condition were told that they were being asked to read the article because it had important implications for future class discussions, and that they would be asked questions germane to the topic.

After these initial instructions, subjects in all treatment conditions were required to examine the energy conservation article in which either the ad stressing fuel efficiency (positive priming) comfort/roominess (negative priming), or driving pleasure (neutral) had been embedded. Upon completion of this task, subjects filled out a questionnaire containing manipulation checks and dependent measures.

Measurement

Manipulation Checks. In order avoid influencing subjects' evaluations of the ads, manipulation checks were assessed subsequent to measurement of the dependent variable(s). Cognitive priming was evaluated by asking subjects to list any thoughts or ideas that came to mind when considering the advertisement or the product. Subjects in both the positive and negative cognitive priming conditions were expected to list the fuel efficiency attribute to a greater extent than subjects in the neutral condition. Further, the valence of this cognition was expected to vary depending upon condition (i.e. positive vs. negative priming).

Subjects provided ratings of their context involvement on three, 7-point semantic differential items adapted from Zaichkowsky's Personal Involvement Inventory (1985). The items were: 1) "paid attention to the article/did not pay attention to the article," 2) "felt it was important to pay attention to the article/did not feel that it was important," and 3) "was involved in reading the article/was not involved in reading the article." The scale formed by the unweighted sum of the three items had a Cronbach's alpha of 91.

Dependent Variables. Aad was measured using four, 7-point semantic differential items: favorable/unfavorable, positive/negative, bad/good, and liked a lot/no liking. The scale formed by an unweighted sum of the items had a Cronbach's alpha of .89. Ab was measured by a similar set of four semantic differential items (Cronbach's alpha =.91) that had been reordered, restructured, and reverse-coded to minimize common methods variation.

Results

Manipulation Checks. The manipulation check for editorial involvement showed a significant main effect (F=18.08, p<.001) and no significant interactions. The mean in the high involvement condition was 4.87, compared to 2.88 in the low involvement condition.

The percentage of subjects listing fuel efficiency related cognitions was significantly higher in the positive ( =.93) and negative ( =.82) priming conditions than it was in the neutral ( =.16) priming condition. ANOVA results indicated a main effect for priming (F=23.03, p<.001) and no two-way interactions. The percentage of negatively valenced focal attribute associations was significantly greater in the negative ( =.94) as opposed to the positive and neutral priming groups ( =.07 and =.26, respectively). Once again, ANOVA results indicated a significant main effect (F=6.15, p<.01) with no interactions.

Hypotheses Testing. H1 predicted that high editorial involvement would have a negative impact upon Aad and Ab. The ANOVA results indicated a significant main effect for context involvement on Aad (F=25.33, p<.001). The mean for the high context involvement condition was 3.33, compared to 5.15 in the low involvement condition. The correlation between context involvement and Aad was -.46. Therefore, H1 was confirmed for Aad. There was no significant main effect of context involvement on Ab.

H2 posited that the moderating impact of cognitive priming on the relationships examined above would vary by dependent measure. More specifically, when context involvement was high, both positive and negative cognitive priming were hypothesized to result in more favorable ad evaluations (Aad). However under high context involvement, these two types of priming were expected to have opposite effects on brand evaluations (Ab). Results indicated a nonsignificant context x priming interaction effect on Aad. However, the means for the positive priming/high involvement ( =3.87), negative priming/high involvement ( =3.56), and neutral/high involvement groups ( =2.14) were in the predicted direction.

A significant two way interaction was observed between involvement and cognitive priming for Ab (F=8.10, p<.01). Under high context involvement, Ab was significantly greater for the positive cognitive priming condition ( =5.30) than for the negative priming ( =2.52) or neutral ( =3.08) conditions. The means did not vary significantly under conditions of low involvement.

EXPERIMENT 2

Design

To test H1, H3 and H4, we conducted a 2 (affective consistency: high/low) x 2 (context involvement: high/low) x 2 (ad involvement: high/low) between subjects experiment. One hundred twenty undergraduate students at a major Northeastern university participated in the experiment. There were 15 subjects per cell.

Procedures

Subjects were randomly assigned to one of the eight treatment groups. Context involvement was manipulated using the same procedure as in Experiment 1. Then, as part of the ad involvement manipulation, subjects were given a set of instructions that varied depending upon treatment group. The instructions in the high ad (execution) involvement manipulation informed subjects that they would be asked to record their impressions of the embedded advertisements; instructions in the low ad involvement manipulation included no mention of the embedded ads. All subjects were then required to examine the child-rearing article in which either the emotional ad (Ad 4) or the neutral ad (Ad 3) had been embedded. The former combination represented the affective-consistent condition, whereas the latter combination represented the affective-inconsistent condition. After reading the article, subjects completed a questionnaire containing manipulation checks and dependent measures.

Measurement

Context involvement and Aad were measured using items and scales identical to those in Experiment 1. To assess the article/ad combinations for affective consistency, subjects indicated their affective reactions to the context and ads on ten 7-point Likert scale items: "happy," "elated," "pleased," "bored," "critical," "disgusted," "sad," "affectionate," "warmhearted," and "concerned" (Edell and Burke 1987; Batra and Ray 1986). Correlation coefficients were computed for each subject based upon these two sets of reactions. As mentioned earlier, it was assumed that affective consistency would be higher in treatment conditions where the emotional ad was embedded within the affective context. In order to insure that any observed effects were due to the association between context and ad, and not to some factor inherent in the ad itself, an independent convenience sample of 55 students provided ratings for both ads on the aforementioned Aad scale. Comparison of means for the two ads yielded no significant difference in attitude measures (t=1.39, p>.05).

Subjects provided ratings of their overall ad (execution) involvement on three, 7-point semantic differential items selected from Zaichkowsky's Personal Involvement Inventory (1985). The items were: 1) "paid attention to the ad/did not pay attention to the ad," 2) "felt it was important to pay attention to the ad/did not feel that it was important," and 3) "was involved in reading the advertisement/was not involved in reading the advertisement. The scale formed by the unweighted sum of the three items had a Cronbach's alpha of .91.

Results

Manipulation Checks. The manipulation check for context involvement showed a significant main effect (F=9.27, p<.01) and no interactions. The mean in the high involvement condition was 4.23 compared to 2.75 in the low involvement condition. The ad involvement manipulation also resulted in a significant main effect (F=17.62, p<.001), with no two or three way interactions present. High ad involvement subjects achieved a mean score of 5.79; low ad involvement subjects achieved a mean rating of 2.39. Finally, a check of affective consistency revealed a significant main effect (F=8.10, p<.01) and no two or three way interactions. The correlation for subjects in the consistent condition was .79 as opposed to -.04 in the inconsistent condition.

Hypotheses Testing. The ANOVA results indicated a significant main effect for context involvement on Aad (F=9.87, p<.01). The mean for the high context involvement condition was 3.27, compared to 5.10 in the low involvement condition. Therefore, as in Experiment 1, H1 is confirmed. H3a and H3b predicted that affective consistency/inconsistency would moderate the relationship between context involvement and Aad. More specifically, under conditions of high context involvement, a consistent affective condition was posited to result in more favorable ad evaluations than an inconsistent condition. Similarly, H4a and H4b predicted that under conditions of high context involvement, high ad involvement would result in more favorable ad evaluations than low ad involvement. Neither of these two-way interactions were significant. However, there was a significant three-way interaction (F=6.63, p<.05). Affective consistency resulted in more favorable ad evaluations when both context and ad involvement were high ( =6.02) than when both measures of involvement were low ( =4.07), or when levels were mixed ( =3.91 and =3.84).

DISCUSSION

The impact of contextual factors on measures of advertising performance has been the focus of a considerable amount of research. The present study is important in that it attempts to specify the conditions under which these factors might influence ad effectiveness in terms of moderating variables. Results of Experiments 1 and 2 confirmed the general finding in the literature that contextual involvement may hinder advertising effectiveness (e.g. Norris and Colman 1992). The present study demonstrates that this negative impact may extend beyond measures of recall and recognition to include both ad and brand evaluations.

Both positive and negative cognitive priming have been demonstrated to have a direct effect on Ab (Yi 1990; 1993). This study examined the question of whether cognitive priming may have possible indirect effects as a result of its impact upon the context involvement/Ab or context involvement/Aad relationships. A significant interaction was observed in terms of the former, but not the latter. As expected, under conditions of high context involvement, positive cognitive priming was found to enhance subjects' attitudes toward the brand. Presumably, the priming of a related attribute that had positive implications for the advertised brand occurred to a greater extent when people were "focussing" upon the editorial material. Negative priming, on the other hand, was found to diminish subjects' brand evaluations, although this difference was not significant. Thus, the direction or valence of the priming (i.e. positive/negative) was found to be important.

Our initial hypotheses predicted that the direction of the priming would not be important in terms of its indirect effects upon Aad. Here it was postulated that the priming of a related attribute should enhance subjects' ability to shift attentional focus, since the subject of that focus had already been accessed from memory. This shifting of focus should have occurred regardless of whether the implications associated with that attribute were positive or negative. Although a comparison of means indicated that results were in the predicted direction, no significant interactions were found.

The implication of a significant finding (i.e. both positive and negative priming interacting with contextual involvement in a similar manner) might have been less of a need for concern (on the part of marketing practitioners) regarding the specific placement of any one particular ad within any one specific media vehicle. That is, when readers are "absorbed" with the editorial material, cutting through the clutter (by either positive or negative means) would be beneficial. The fact that this was not the case, however, seems to indicate that care must be taken in attempting to achieve the appropriate "match" between editorial content and advertising message.

In Experiment 2, affective consistency was found to positively impact Aad only when both editorial and ad involvement were high. Apparently (as hypothesized earlier) when context involvement is high, affective consistency may enhance subjects' ability to shift attentional focus. However, the lack of a two-way (context involvement x ad involvement) or (context involvement x affective consistency) interaction argues against the hypothesized interpretation that causing a shift in attentional focus alone is a sufficient condition for positively impacting Aad. Instead, it may be that some sort of processing goal must be present (MacInnis, Moorman, and Jaworski 1991). That is, the enhanced ability to shift attentional focus may result in more positive ad evaluations only if the motivation is present to form these evaluations "on-line," that is, with the goal of forming judgments about the ad (Lichtenstein and Srull 1985).

It appears that this on-line processing goal may have been induced by our instructions. In the high ad involvement manipulation, subjects were informed that they would be asked to record their impressions of the embedded advertisements. Perhaps results would have been different if we had only drawn subjects' attention to the ads, without an implied objective. Future research might examine the effects of other types of ad involvement manipulations upon these relationships.

The Elaboration Likelihood Model predicts that non-cognitive contextual influences should be stronger (i.e. they should serve as peripheral cues) when ads are processed in a low involvement manner (Petty, Cacioppo, and Schumann 1983). In contrast, processing goal theory suggests that context effects should be stronger when ads are actively processed, such that an evaluation is formed while the context is salient (Srull 1984). Our results not only agree with this latter theory, but they also seem to suggest that both a shift in attentional resources and a processing goal are required.

Limitations

Our measure of affective consistency is limited in that it only addresses the effects of a "positive" ad within a "positive" cognitive context. There are a wide variety of both positive and negative emotional responses that could have been investigated. Future research efforts might be directed toward an examination of additional affective combinations. In addition, a more extreme manipulation of affective consistency (i.e. utilizing, perhaps, a negatively valenced rather than a neutral ad) might have resulted in the manifestation of additional interaction effects.

Finally, available contextual stimuli precluded our examination of both cognitive priming and affective consistency within the same experimental setting. Although these two moderating variables were not hypothesized to interact, the construction of appropriate articles by the researcher would permit an investigation of this possibility.

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Please contact the first author for a complete reference list.

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