Advertising Principles - Evidence-based principles

Books Related to Advertising Principles

The books are listed alphabetically in the following categories:

The asterisks denote what I believe to be the most useful books.

History of Advertising

The following books helped to describe the history of advertising principles. They help to identify the origins of many principles.

*Fox, Stephen (1997), The Mirror Makers: A History of American Advertising and Its Creators. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

  • Interesting stories about key people and events.


*Goodrum, Charles & Helen Dalrymple (1990), Advertising in America: The First Two Hundred Years. New York: Harry N. Abrams.

  • An encyclopedia of print advertising. The authors tell of the invention of Ivory soap, the disposable razor blade, the hard-sell, the sex-sell, and so on.


Mayer, Martin (1958), Madison Avenue, U.S.A. New York: Harper.

  • Stories about leading advertisers.


Mayer, Martin (1991), Whatever Happened to Madison Avenue: Advertising in the '90s, Boston: Litlle, Brown & Co.

  • Describes how advertising in America has evolved. Originally sellers of print-media space, ad agencies became space buyers, then creators of romantic soap and auto ads, then producers of early TV network programs.


Pope, Daniel (1983), The Making of Modern Advertising, New York: Basic Books.

  • Chapters 4, 5, and 6 are relevant to persuasion.


Presbrey, Frank (1929), The History of Modern Advertising. New York: Doubleday.

  • My favorite book on the history of advertising. Unfortunately, the book is difficult to obtain.


Expert Advice on Persuasion Through Advertising

One of the nice things about advertising is that practitioners often run experiments and they track results. Because of this, they have learned much about what works and what does not.

Antin, Tony (1993), Great Print Advertising: Creative Approaches, Strategies, and Tactics. New York: John Wiley.

  • Detailed, step-by-step instructions for developing print ads. Provides examples of ads that work - and those that don't.


Hopkins, Claude C. (1923), Scientific Advertising. Reprinted by NTC Business Books.

  • Simple and good advice that is still violated today.


*Mayhew, Deborah (1992), Principles and Guidelines for Software User Interface.

  • Contains research findings relevant to designing websites.


*Ogilvy, David (1983), Ogilvy on Advertising. New York: Vintage Book.

  • A primer on advertising from the man Time called "the most sought after wizard in the business". This translates his 1963 book into a more usable and more complete format. 223 photos.


Ogilvy, David (1963). Confessions of An Advertising Man. New York: Atheneum.

Reeves, Rosser (1961), Reality In Advertising. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Roman, Kenneth & Jane Maas (2003), How to Advertise, (3rd edition). New York: St. Martin’s Press.

  • A practical guide to what works in advertising, what doesn't - and why. Includes chapters on Glossary Link copy and media as well as guidelines for legal, regulatory, and public responsibility issues, and a chapter on how to work with an agency.


 *Scott, Walter Dill (1912),The Theory and Practice of Advertising. Boston: Small, Maynard.

  • Provides empirically-based advice that has held up over time.

    One of the nice things about advertising is that practitioners often run experiments and they track results. Because of this, they have learned much about what works and what does not.

    Antin, Tony (1993), Great Print Advertising: Creative Approaches, Strategies, and Tactics. New York: John Wiley.
  • Detailed, step-by-step instructions for developing print ads. Provides examples of ads that work - and those that don't.


Research on Persuasion Through Advertising

The following books review research related to advertising principles. Some report original research.

Abelson, Herbert I., Marvin Karlins (1959), Persuasion: How Opinions and Attitudes Have Changed. New York: Springer Publishing

*Caples, John & Fred E. Hahn (1997), Tested Advertising Methods, 5th Edition. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

  • The original edition, by Caples was published in 1932. It provides principles that were developed from nearly half a century of research on direct-response advertising. Unfortunately, the book does not provide details on the experiments.


*Cialdini, Robert B. (2001), Influence: Science and Practice. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Originally published in 1984, this book is often updated.

  • Combines evidence from experimental work with the techniques and strategies that Cialdini gathered while working as a salesperson, fundraiser, advertiser, and in other positions inside organizations that commonly use persuasion tactics. Cialdini organizes the "influence" techniques into six categories: reciprocation, consistency, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity.


*Dillard, James P. & Michael Pfau (2002), The Persuasion Handbook, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

  • Some excellent chapters and some bad ones. (Hint: The word "theory" frequently appears in the bad ones.)


Hovland, Carl I., Irving J. Janus & Harold H. Kelly (1953), Communication and Persuasion: Psychological Studies of Opinion Change. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

  • Includes findings from research on actions that facilitate persuasive communication.


*Knowles, Eric S. & Jay A. Linn (2004), Resistance and Persuasion. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

  • In addition to summarizing research on resistance to persuasion, it presents original research. Four areas of resistance are identified: reactance, distrust, scrutiny, and inertia.. read more

Levine, Robert (2003), The Power of Persuasion. New York: John Wiley.

  • Levine takes a hands-on approach by attending training sessions for magicians and by taking jobs as a door-to-door salesman and a used car salesman. (Builds upon Cialdini’s work.)

    *Messaris, Paul (1997), Visual Persuasion: The Role of Images in Advertising. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
  • The pictures in TV commercials, magazine ads, and other forms of advertising often convey meanings that cannot be expressed as well--or at all--through words or music. This book analyzes a variety of commercial, political, and social-issue advertisements.

 * O'Keefe, Daniel J. (2002), Persuasion: Theory and Research. London: Sage Publications

  • This book contains descriptions of an enormous number of research studies on persuasion (around 1,200 by my count). The author has conducted meta-analyses in a number of areas related to persuasion and he organizes the finding as they pertain to various theories (e.g., the theory of reasoned action, elaboration likelihood method, Glossary Link cognitive dissonance). He gives careful attention to the conditions.

Petty, Richard E. & John T. Cacioppo (1995), Attitudes and Persuasion. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.

  • Aimed at undergraduates, this book describes useful studies on persuasion written by two researchers who have made major contributions to the field.


*Pratkanis, Anthony & Elliot Aronson (2000). The Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion. New York: W. H. Freeman.


*Stewart, David W. & David H. Furse (1986), Effective Television Advertising: A Study of 1000 Commercials. London: Simon & Schuster.

  • This book analyzes 1,000 TV commercials for fast moving consumer products, such as cereals, beverages, cleaners, paper products. Regression analysis is used to see how features of ads affect Glossary Link recall, comprehension, and persuasion. A useful summary of their findings is provided in their Appendix C, which is provided in full text at, under “Developing Ad Campaigns.


Stiff, James B. & Paul A. Mongeau (2003). Persuasive Communication. New York, Guilford Press.

*Tellis, Gerard J. (2004), Effective Advertising : Understanding When, How, and Why Advertising Works. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

  • Reviews research in advertising, marketing, consumer behavior, and psychology.


Wheildon, Colin (1995), Type & Layout: How Typography and Design Can Get Your Message Across-Or Get in the Way, Berkeley, CA: Strathmoor Press.

  • Amazon customer rating = 4.5. This book contains reports on a series of experiments conducted by Wheildon. He focuses mostly on comprehension as measured by people’s ability to answer questions about two articles after they finished reading them.


Textbooks on Advertising

While there are many textbooks in advertising, few discuss principles. Here are some that do.

Batra, Rajeev, John G. Myers & David A. Aaker (1996), Advertising Management. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Harris, Richard Jackson (1994), A Cognitive Psychology of Mass Communication, 2nd Edition. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

*Rossiter, John R. & Larry Percy (1997), Advertising Communications and Promotion Management. New York: McGraw Hill.


Writing Advertisements

Suggestions on how to write clearly and forcefully.

Bly, Robert W. (1990), The Copywriter's Handbook : A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing That Sells. New York: Henry Holt.

Strunk, William & E. B. White (2000), The Elements of Style (4th edition). New York: Longman.

  • A small handbook for matters of word usage and misusage, and writing style.


Sullivan Luke (1998; revised edition in 2003), Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Ads. New York: John Wiley.

  • Interesting and opinionated. Seldom based on evidence.


Examples of Advertisements

Most of the following books contain beautiful and interesting advertisements. Although some describe interesting facts about the ads, seldom do any of them discuss principles.

Berger, Warren (2001), Advertising Today. Boston: Phaidon.

  • An overview of the evolution of advertising around the world over the last third of the 20th century. Includes interviews with key people in advertising.


Burton, Philip Ward & Scott C. Purvis (2002), Which Ad Pulled Best? (9th edition). Chicago, Illinois: Crain Books.

  • Periodically updated. Compares pairs of ads for a given product. An instructors’ manual provides copy-testing results for the pairs of ads. Without the instructors' manual, the book is of little value. Even with the manual, its value is debatable because, although the ads are matched, there are many differences between the ads in each pair, thus making it difficult to determine what led to differences. Furthermore, there are no measures of sales response, only customers' responses on recall, interest, and persuasion.


Designers and Art Directors Association of the UK (1995), The Copy Book: How 32 of the World´s Best Advertising Writers Write Their Copy, Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers.

Dobrow, Larry (1984), When Advertising Tried Harder: The Sixties: The Golden Age of American Advertising. New York: Friendly Press.

Glatzer, Robert (1970), The New Advertising: The Great Campaigns from Avis to Volkswagen. New York: Citadel Press.

Holme, Bryan (1982), Advertising: Reflection of a Century. New York: Viking Press.

Ind, Nicholas (1993), Great Advertising Campaigns. Lincolnwood, Illinois: NTC Business Books.

*Kanner, Bernice (1999), The 100 Best TV Commercials...And Why They Worked. New York: Random House.

Levenson, Bob (1987), Bill Bernbach's Book : A History of Advertising That Changed the History of Advertising. New York: Villard Books.

  • Reproductions of Bernbach’s ads along with a discussion.


Sobieszek, Robert A. (1988), The Art of Persuasion, New York: Harry N. Abrams.

  • Provides artistic advertisements from 1865 to 1987.

*Twitchell, James B. (2000), Twenty Ads That Shook the World. New York: Three Rivers Press.

  • Interesting discussions of twenty famous advertising campaigns.


Watkins, Julian Lewis v(1959), The 100 Greatest Advertisements - Who Wrote Them and What They Did. New York: Dover.



*Rothenberg, Randall (1994), Where the Suckers Moon : The Life and Death of an Advertising Campaign. New York: Alfred Knopf.

  • Want to know what working in an ad agency is like? This book chronicles the brief, turbulent marriage between an auto company (Subaru) and a hip ad agency (Weiden and Kennedy).


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