Capturing the complexity of advertising perceptions

Date of publication: December 1, 1995


This paper is concerned with finding appropriate ways in which qualitative research can examine how advertising is perceived so that we can extrapolate accurately from the research situation to reactions while watching ads on-air. An American Sociologist, Michael Schudson (1984), captures the task for advertising research somewhat graphically. He argues that advertising is increasingly using more Rococo means of manipulation, becoming more visual, and that this underlines the need to understand the processing of images - ie. what consumers actually do with advertising. The process of turning sensory experiences into meaningful perceptions involves multiple stages of processing, and various mechanisms. According to Gregory -1972 perceptions are actively constructed from "floating fragmentary scraps of data signalled by the senses and drawn down from the brain memory banks, themselves constructions from the snippets of the past. " In the search for better techniques, we need to know more about the way in which perception works and the way advertising images are processed. Qualitative research can be enhanced through contact with cognitive sciences to give a better understanding of advertising perceptions and improve the methods used for capturing the impressions created.

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