Washington, September 16 : A new study has revealed that the sequence in which advertisements are published in a magazine or shown on TV affects prospective consumers' perceptions about the products.
However, another finding of the same study is that whether people have a positive or negative impression depends on how knowledgeable they are about the products being pitched.
Myungwoo Nam of INSEAD, Asia Campus in Singapore, and Brian Sternthal of Northwestern University conducted four studies in which participants looked at ads to provide context, and then evaluated "target ads" for products.
The participants' knowledge about the products in the target ads was also tested.
The researchers found that "experts" reacted differently than "novices".
"The specific effect of context depends on the decision-maker's expertise in the target category and the accessibility of contextual information," write the authors.
During the first study, "positive" ads were for Armani clothing and Rolex watches, while "negative" ads were Old Navy and Timex, brands with less status.
The target product was a Honda Civic.
After rating the subjects for their expertise about cars, the researchers found that experts evaluated the Honda more favorably after seeing positive context ads than negative, while novices showed the opposite pattern.
"Consumers who had substantial knowledge about cars evaluated Honda Civics more favourably after seeing Armani and Rolex ads compared to exposure to Old Navy and Timex ads. On the other hand, less-knowledgeable consumers evaluated the target brand less favourably," explain the authors.
Similar results were seen when the experiments involved target ads for fictitious brand stereos and detergent.
The experts corrected their impressions when they were given more details about the target products.
The effect, however, disappeared when they were distracted from their task.
"Answering these questions is important because brands are invariably presented in a context that might influence how they are perceived," conclude the authors.
The study has been published in the Journal of Consumer Research.