Ideally, advertising objectives should be stated in terms of sales or profits. However, this is difficult or impossible given that advertising is only one of the input variables, and it interacts with other controlled and uncontrolled variables that also impact sales and profits.
The advertising objectives must somehow relate to consumer’s behavior since this is what must be influenced to obtain a sale. But behavior, in turn, is a function of a complex process. It is not enough to say that the objective of advertising is to trigger behavior that will lead, in some way, to a sale. Rather, what is needed is a measurement of the process by which the desired response was achieved; that is, the communication must attract the attention of the target group, be understood and convince all concerned that the product can meet their needs better than alternative products.
In recent years the use of attitude maintenance or shift as a measure of advertising effectiveness has grown in importance. This has resulted from recent work dealing with product positioning, in which product benefits serve as the basis for market segmentation. To achieve any attitudinal change objective, the communication must satisfy several requirements, including attracting attention, being understood and being convincing. Awareness (both aided and unaided) is often used as a summary measure of advertising’s success in attracting attention and being remembered and, thus, can be used as an objective.
The technical problems associated with attitude measurement were discussed; therefore, the discussion here centers mainly on measuring the attitudes of target audiences toward products and then attempting to determine the effect of advertising on those attitudes. Actually, more than a single measurement is needed since marketers need to evaluate attitude toward their product’s salient characteristics as well as toward those competing brands. Such a set of measurements should give some indication of what specific attitudinal changes must be effected in order to obtain sales. Thus, the goal of advertising can be stated in terms of changing consumers’ attitudes with respect to selected product characteristics. This approach assumes that attitudes are predictors of behavior and that they can be measured with some reasonable degree of accuracy.
Measuring attitudes is difficult as understanding the process by which attitudes are formed and changed. Even so, the idea of using attitudes as the focus of advertising effort has great appeal because of its presumed link with behavior. Thus, many advertising effectiveness measures implicitly recognize the importance of attitudes and work directly or indirectly to measure them.
In lieu of measurements of attitudes per se, purchase intention measures are often used as a way of testing advertisements that seek to increase the likelihood of purchase by changing beliefs and evaluations. This summary measure can be used to compare the effect of different ads. When coupled with a measure concerning the degree to which a product’s salient features fit those of the ideal brand,, the result is a set of data of considerable value to the advertising manager as well as the copywriter.
There are many highly specific communication objectives that can involve advertising. One checklist for developing advertising objectives cites some 52 possible objectives. These are listed under nine headings as follows: (1) closing an immediate sale (buy now because of price); (2) creating near term sales by moving the prospect closer to a purchase (combating competitive claims); (3) building a long range consumer franchise (establish brand recognition and acceptance); (4) contribute towards increased sales ( convert non-users of the product type); (5) emphasizing a specific step which leads to a sale (induce prospects to sample the product); (6) imparting information needed to close a sale (where to buy it); (7) building confidence in the company (past and present profitability); and (8) building images (product quality and corporate citizenship).
Advertising objectives can also be classified as per their objective in terms of informing, persuading, or reminding. Examples of information type objectives include making prospective consumers aware of a new product announcing a new price, and explaining how a product works. Persuading objectives include attempting to build brand preference and loyalty and changing a consumer’s attitudes about a particular brand’s characteristics. Objectives have to do with reminding include communication telling consumers where and when to buy the product.