Recency and Primary effects

When presenting a two sided message, should the points favorable to the advertiser’s brand be presented first or second? If many competing messages are involved, as they are in magazines and during commercial breaks on television do the first or last communication tend to have the advantage? Both of these issues involve the subject of primary and recency effects. When the material presented first produces the greater opinion or attitude change, a primary effect has occurred. When material presented last produces the greater change then a recency effect has been observed.

Research into the question of which presentation of order is more effective when using a two sided message has not been very conclusive. It appears that sometimes a primacy and sometimes a recency effect is observed. The reasons for these contradictory findings are not all clear. Therefore we will not even offer tentative guidelines can this subject.

The evidence on whether it would be better for a promotional message to appear first or last in a series of messages is also not clear. However, many advertisers who favor evidence suggesting a primacy effect are willing to pay a premium for early placement in a magazine or during a commercial break. Others act the same way regarding placement at the end of a series of advertisements. Unfortunately at the present time each set of advocates can point to research evidence supporting their position. More investigation of the factors accounting for such contradictory findings is certainly needed.

Conclusion Drawing

Is it better to draw a conclusion for consumers at the end of a message or let them draw their own conclusion from the information presented in the communication? Investigations of these questions suggest that for some consumers, attitude change is most effectively achieved by drawing a conclusion for them in the marketing communication. If this is not done, they may either draw the wrong conclusion or no conclusions at all and therefore the intended attitude.

However research has also found that involvement levels are an important consideration when conclusions are implied but not explicitly drawn for consumers. Under conditions of high involvement omitted but implied message conclusions are likely to be inferred by intelligent consumers and this is likely to lad as favorable attitude change. Those consumers having low involvement are less likely to make such inferences. Therefore conclusions drawing appear appropriate for consumers expected to operating under low involvement levels.


That repetition of persuasive messages can be beneficial in encouraging rehearsal transferring information to long term memory and forestalling forgetting. Other benefits were also suggested. That is, some research evidence indicates that increased repetition of an advertising message can by itself encourage consumers to develop positive feelings toward the brand. This suggests that consumers can be changed in a positive direction through frequent advertising exposures. Conditions which appear o produce such an effect are (1) when the audience initially favors the message position (2) when a soft sell (as opposed to a hard-sell) is employed.

Even under the conditions just cited, marketers should not expect continuous positive change among consumers from increased repetitions of a communication. At some point message wear out occurs. Here, the positive effects of repetition diminish as repetition occurs because of audience boredom, inattention and increased cognitive response activity that is less positive in content than the message. The conclusion from these studies is that moderate levels of advertising repetition over time appear to positively influence attitudes as well as rehearsal and memory. The effect s of wear out can probably be forestalled by employing a series of messages having a central theme with unique components to provide different information and some novelty to maintain audience interest.