Seeing the Big Picture: Multitasking and Memory for the Ad
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that look at advertising in terms of competition for other resources or in consideration with other
stimuli are often looking at the effects of adding more ‘bells and whistles’ to the single medium
that the ad is appearing in (e.g. Lang, 2000). In the advertising arena, media multitasking –
consuming media while engaged in a non-mediated task or simultaneously consuming two media
- is what advertisers and marketers need to understand in consumers. American youth spend
more time with media than any single activity other than sleeping with the average eight- to
eighteen-year-old spending more than six hours per day of media use (Roberts and Foehr 2008).
This has led to international calls to increase attention to multitasking behavior when cataloguing
media uses and effects (New Zealand Standard Broadcasting Authority, 2007).
Effects of Multitasking on Memory of Ad
One reason that many researchers may be hesitant to begin considering effects of
multitasking while consumers are exposed to an ad is that control can become very difficult
when presenting multiple options for attention. However, it is crucial that as researchers (and
practitioners) we begin to better understand what these effects may be and what they may mean
for our theories of attention, involvement and memory of ads that consumers are exposed to.
Individual propensity to multitask and differences in processing styles of audience
members may be crucial to consider when understanding multitasking ad effects. For example,
previous research has found that when given an information search task (goal-driven or top-
down processing), people generally have negative affect toward the ignored ads in later ratings.
These effects occur even without explicit recognition of those ads (Duff and Faber, 2009).
Importantly, these effects differ by individuals high and low in their ability to control their
attentional focus (Duff, 2009), with those low in attentional control less able to focus on the
Seeing the Big Picture: Submitted to AEJMC 2011