Different types of commercials can have different effects on their viewers. Paul D. Bolls, Darrel D. Muehling and Kak Yoon studied viewer effects of commercials in this research article. The study focused on the viewer effects of fast paced commercials and slow paced commercials. The authors believe that fast-pace advertisements (over slow-paced advertisements) have a positive effect on its viewer’s involuntary attention, however have minimal effects on their voluntary attention.
The authors note that fast paced commercials are becoming more popular. They refer to them having a ‘Music Television style’ which involves rapid pace, multi-visual, upbeat music and special effects. Also, the authors choose this area of study since most other research on commercials focuses on effects of content. The types of research in the author’s study shows production of commercials also have effects on attention and memory beyond the influence of the commercials intended message.
Several areas of this topic were hypothesized. This included that faster paced television advertisements will cause a stronger involuntary attention/arousal then caused by slower paced advertisements. Additionally, faster paced commercials will cause similar levels of voluntary attention/arousal as slower paced commercials. These hypothesis are based on the idea the faster paced commercials may cause a ‘sensory overload’ to the viewer causing involuntary arousal to occur yet keeping voluntary arousal to remain the same.
Other areas hypothesized focused on the retention of the commercials. The information given from the commercials were in split into two groups – claim and non-claim information. Claim information is the message of the commercial and non-claim information is the background, scenery, music, etc. The authors hypothesized that faster paced commercials will cause better retention of non-claim information then slower paced commercials. Additionally, they stated that faster paced commercials will cause poorer retention of claim based information compared to slower paced commercials.
In order to study the effect of fast and slow paced commercials, the authors collected a sample of both types of television commercials all 30 seconds each. Fast paced commercials were defined as having 11 or more cuts within the 30 seconds whereas slow paced commercials as having 3 or less cuts within 30 seconds. 36 undergraduates were used as the sample audience. They were shown 3 tapes with 12 commercials on each (half fast paced and half slow paced). The average number of cuts in the fast paced commercials was 15.83 and the average number of cuts in the slow paced commercials was 2.17.
In order to calculate involuntary arousal from the commercials skin conductance was measured on each participant while viewing the commercials. Voluntary arousal was measure by taking the participants heart rates while viewing the commercials. To calculate memory and retention, after viewing all the commercials, participants were given the brand name and product type each commercial and asked to write everything they could remember about the it.
The participants’ responses were then ranked as either claim information or non-claim information.
The first hypothesis predicted that faced paced commercials would cause more involuntary arousal. The average skin conductance for faced paced commercials was 2.05 and the average for slow paced commercials was 1.77. This data support the first hypothesis.
The second hypothesis predicted that voluntary arousal from fast and slow paced commercials would be relatively the same. The average heart rate while watching fast paced commercials was 72.61. The average heart rate while watching slow paced commercials was 72.36. With the heart rate same relatively the same this data supposes the second hypothesis.
The third hypothesis predicted that memory of non-claim information would be better forr fast paced commercials opposeed to slow paced commercials. The average number of pieces of non-claim information in fast paced commercials was 5.09 whereas the average number for slow paced commercials was 3.76. This data supports the third hypothesis.
The fourth hypothesis predicted the memory of claim information would be less in fast paced commercials then in slow paced commercials. The average number of pieces of claim information for fast paced commercials was 0.31 and the average for slow paced commercials was 0.41. This data supports the fourth hypothesis.
Several conclusions can be drawn from the results of this study. For example, there was no significant difference in voluntary attention from exposure to the fast and slow paced commercials. This could be caused by the fact that although fast paced commercials offer more stimuli they require more of an effort to intake thus cause less voluntary attention. Advertisers could apply this data. It shows fast paced commercials are not necessarily a productive way of gaining audience attention.
Additionally, since the participants retained more claim data from the slow paced commercials advertisers may favor slower paced commercials in order to successfully communicate the product information to the viewer.
As in any research study, additional data should be collected in order to further support the hypothesis of the authors.