Advertising Principles - Evidence-based principles

Dictionary of terms used in Advertising Principles

There are 61 entries in this glossary.
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Term Definition
Advertising elasticity

The relationship between percentage changes in advertising and unit sales. Thus, an elasticity of 0.1 means that if the expenditure on advertising for a brand increases (decreases) by 10 percent, unit sales would increase (decrease) by 1 percent.

Alignable choice

A set of products in which the differences are based on a single dimension, such as the size of a container of milk. I sometimes refer to these as easy choices.


The tendency of people to focus on a value, such as a suggested retail price of a product, when making a decision.

Body text or body copy

The main text of an advertisement, not including the headline or brand identifiers.


A technique in which group members work alone to list their ideas for a given problem. It can also be done within a group meeting by taking a short time interval for individual work, say ten minutes, during which group members individually write all the solutions they can think of for a given problem. They submit their lists anonymously and the ideas are then collated. This procedure is more effective than brainstorming.


A series of advertisements with a common objective.


A description commonly placed above or beneath a photograph or an illustration.

Cognitive dissonance

Psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously; when applied to advertising, the dissonance that nearly often exists after an individual makes a decision involving two or more alternatives.

Comparative advantage

The degree to which a brand is superior to a competitive brand on a given feature or benefit.

Comparative advertising

Advertising that compares two or more specifically named or recognizably presented brands of the same type of product or service and makes comparisons in terms of one or more specific product or service attributes. Direct comparative advertising explicitly names a competitive brand (e.g., “better than Bose”) and indirect comparative advertising refers to a competitive brand without explicitly naming it (e.g., “better than other leading brands”).

Concrete words

Words that denote a material object as opposed to an abstract quality, state, or action. I use this word as synonymous with “specific.”


The text used in ads. (See Body text.)

Copy testing

Research to determine how consumers will respond to an ad. In particular, will the ad affect behavior?


Correlations give an idea of how closely two variables vary, going from -1 (perfect agreement in the negative in the negative direction: if x is higher, y is lower) to +1 (perfect agreement in the positive in the negative direction: if x is higher, y is higher). It is widely confused with causality (it is not). A pattern of correlations may help to support a statement about causality, but the lack of a correlation does not mean that variables are not causally related. For example, it might occur because one variable did not vary, or because the relationship was masked by the variations in another variable. It is not an easy measure to understand because it is related to various properties of the data. For example, data on individuals tend to have smaller correlations (below 0.1) than for group data, and time series can have very high correlations (above .9) even for spurious relationships (such as two variable that rise over time). Unfortunately, it is difficult to infer importance or effect sizes from correlations. In addition, it is easy for statisticians to obtain higher correlations by using various “tricks.” Armstrong (1970) showed how a correlation of .92 was obtained by correlating two series of random numbers. I try to refrain from reporting correlations; however, in some cases, it is the only measure provided by the researchers, and can be used as a very rough measure of relative importance.

Credence product

A product for which the claims are based on faith. The consumer cannot check this, even after using the product. However, published tests or comments from prior consumers could help to transform a credence product into a search product (see Search product).

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