May 13, 2014

How to Talk to Marketing Clients: Advertising Effects 101

How to Communicate Advertising Effects

Do you ever had difficulty explaining your advertising design to those in charge?

Maybe you don't talk about it in terms marketing people easily can relate to?

“You need to be able to talk about value with a shared language that puts your prospective partner at ease. Establish that trust sets up the “meeting of equals you’ve been looking for. It’s going to let you do your job with less pushback on your design decisions, get you involved earlier in the creation process, make it easier to justify your fees…” Ken & Jen Visocky O'Grady, authors of “Design Currency: Understand, define, and promote the value of your design work

Marketing professionals often talk about advertising according to a sequence of advertising effects. The first four steps are:

1. Exposure

Exposure is made up of reach and frequency. Reach is the number of people an advertiser can reach through an ad. For example, 2014 a full page ad in New York Times reached roughly 5 million people.

The frequency is how many times the ad is run.

2. Processing

Processing refers to the target group's immediate responses to an actual ad. Processing happens in short-term memory and only concerns the particular ad.

Simply put, processing refers to the ad’s immediate ability to grab, keep and direct attention, evoking emotions and teaching simple facts.

3. Communications effects

The intended outcome of processing is to produce long-term communication effects. These effects are connected to the advertised brand, product or service (to be less repetitive we will only mention “brand” henceforward.) Such effects happen in long-term memory

The advertiser can strive for 5 communication effects:

Of course you need a snazzy lawn-mower! If you also think so your “Category Need,” the first communication effect, is established. Now you only have to decide which brand and model! Maybe this self-propelled, rechargeable beauty from Black & Decker!

1) The first effect, category need, refers to the prospective buyer wanting the type of product advertised, e.g. a lawn-mower, a 401k plan or a high-protein bar. When the category need is established the buyer is “in the market” for the product category.

2) The second communication effect is awareness of the brand the ad is designed to promote. Brand awareness is reached when the targeted buyer knows that the advertised brand is a buying option within its product category. For example, after processing an ad from “Black & Decker” promoting their brand new lawn-mower “Self-Propelled Rechargeable Mower SPCM1936” I now know that Black & Decker, besides power tools, also are making lawn-mowers. Awareness is straightforward, either you know or don’t know it.

3) The third communication effect is attitude. Brand attitude is accomplished when the targeted buyer has reached at least a tentative favorable attitude towards the brand. Attitude is made up by both rational and emotional reasons to buy, and the attitude can be more or less strong.

The prospective buyer forms a favorable attitude towards the brand by a mix of: 1. Trust in the ability of the brand 2. Rational proof for product or service’s ability to solve his or her problem 3. A correct portrayal of the emotions you’re having when this problem pains you and/or how you will feel when solved.
The ad for the SPCM1936 could try to make me favorable to it by evoking images of happy family days in my perfectly manicured garden, illustrate how much lawn I can mow on a single charge or impress me with the many “test-winner”-reviews the Black & Decker brand got.


4) The fourth effect advertising can strive for, purchase intention, is the buyer’s self-instruction to buy the brand, product or service next time the need or opportunity arises. This intention can be more or less conscious.

5) Lastly, purchase facilitation, is accomplished when the buyer feels that every practical barrier to buy the advertised product is removed. He or she now knows the Black & Decker lawn-mower is in stock at the nearest Home Depot, he or she knows the lawn-mower can be paid in 24 monthly, interest free installments, the price is right etc.

For many advertising campaigns category need is often already present. Awareness and attitude is always goals in advertising. Other goals depends on the current campaign.

4. Action

Action refers to the desired behavior the advertiser wants from the targeted audience. Common action goals are a:

  • purchase
  • sales inquiry
  • visit to a store or an authorized dealer
  • website visit
  • a follow on social media
  • email sign-up


When you are commissioned for advertising try to discuss, set goals, measure, document and report back results in terms of advertising effects. The more tangible, concrete, measurable metrics you use the better.

Beauty still matters, surprise still matters, and to connect emotionally definitely still matters, but explaining your designs in advertising terms will make you a trusted equal.

It will educate your advertising clients on how your creative services has contributed to their success. A track-record of well-documented advertising effects will make it easier to get new clients, keep your existing and charge higher fees.

What do you think?