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  • A Model For Predictive Measurements of Advertising Effectiveness
  • Robert J. Lavidge (bio) and Gary A. Steiner (bio)

Lavidge, Robert J. and Gary A. Steiner. 1961. A model for predictive measurements of advertising effectiveness. Journal of Marketing. 25(October), 59–62. Reprinted with the permission of the American Marketing Association. Reprinted with the permission of the American Marketing Association.

The development and selection of research designs too often reflects thinking which is technique-oriented. This article looks at advertising research from another viewpoint.

It starts with the questions: What is advertising supposed to do? What are its functions? The authors then show the implications of these questions in relation to measurements of the effectiveness of proposed advertisements.

What are the functions of advertising? Obviously the ultimate function is to help produce sales. But all advertising is not, should not, and cannot be designed to produce immediate purchases on the part of all who are exposed to it. Immediate sales results (even if measurable) are, at best, an incomplete criterion of advertising effectiveness.

In other words, the effects of much advertising are “long-term.” This is sometimes taken to imply that all one can really do is wait and see — ultimately the campaign will or will not produce.

However, if something is to happen in the long run, something must be happening in the short run, something that will ultimately lead to eventual sales results. And this process must be measured in order to provide anything approaching a comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness of the advertising.

Ultimate consumers normally do not switch from disinterested individuals to convinced purchasers in one instantaneous step. Rather, they approach the ultimate purchase through a process or series of steps in which the actual purchase is but the final threshold.

Seven Steps

Advertising may be thought of as a force, which must move people up a series of steps:

  1. 1. Near the bottom of the steps stand potential purchasers who are completely unaware of the existence of the product or service in question.

  2. 2. Closer to purchasing, but still a long way from the cash register, are those who are merely aware of its existence.

  3. 3. Up a step are prospects who know what the product has to offer.

  4. 4. Still closer to purchasing are those who have favorable attitudes toward the product — those who like the product.

  5. 5. Those whose favorable attitudes have developed to the point of preference over all other possibilities are up still another step.

  6. 6. Even closer to purchasing are consumers who couple preference with a desire to buy and the conviction that the purchase would be wise.

  7. 7. Finally, of course, is the step which translates this attitude into actual purchase.

Research to evaluate the effectiveness of advertisements can be designed to provide measures of movement on such a flight of steps.

The various steps are not necessarily equidistant. In some instances the “distance” from awareness to preference may be very slight, while the distance from preference to purchase is extremely large. In other cases, the reverse may be true. Furthermore, a potential purchaser sometimes may move up several steps simultaneously.

Consider the following hypotheses. The greater the psychological and/or economic commitment involved in the purchase of a particular product, the longer it will take to bring consumers up these steps, and the more important the individual steps will be. Contrariwise, the less serious the commitment, the more likely it is that some consumers will go almost “immediately” to the top of the steps.

An impulse purchase might be consummated with no previous awareness, knowledge, liking, or conviction with respect to the product. On the other hand, an industrial good or an important consumer product ordinarily will not be purchased in such a manner.

Different Objectives

Products differ markedly in terms of the role of advertising as related to the various positions on the steps. A great deal of advertising is designed to move people up the final steps toward purchase. At an extreme is the “Buy Now” ad, designed to stimulate immediate overt action. Contrast this with industrial advertising, much of which is not intended to stimulate immediate purchase in and of itself. Instead, it is designed to help...