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Irritating Your Way into Consumers’ Hearts

Irritating Your Way into Consumers’ Hearts

Don E. Schultz

In one week, two directly conflicting studies were reported. That seems to summarize the situation advertising finds itself in today. Conflict, confusion and maybe a bit of concern.  

At the American Academy of Advertising’s annual convention in SeattleProfessor Kelty Logan, of the University of Colorado at Boulder, reported results of her updating of a previous study conducted in 1995 and 1996 by Robert Ducoffe. In the original study, Ducoffe hypothesized a model of advertising value. He argued that consumers determined the value of advertising based on the information and entertainment value provided, discounted by irritation. In 1996, Ducoffe extended his model to include consumer perceptions of internet advertising based on consumer’s perceptions of value, again, discounted by irritation. Nineteen years ago, Ducoffe found the irritation factor of Internet advertising was only somewhat irritating.  

Logan conducted her study in 2016 using essentially the same questions but with a larger online sample. She, however, got dramatically different results. Logan found today the internet is less informative, less entertaining and has significantly less advertising value. The only thing that grew was the irritation factor. We essentially have more advertising with less value and more irritation than we had 19 years ago.  

At the same time Logan was reporting her study update results, the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) was holding its annual ReThink 2016 conference in New York. Based on the opposite results that were reported, it seems appropriate that the two groups were meeting at separate ends of the country. 


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​Don E. Schultz is a professor (emeritus-in-service) of integrated marketing communications at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.