Advertising Principles - Evidence-based principles

Finalist for AMA’s 2011 Best Book in Marketing

A complete description of the principles has
been published in Persuasive Advertising

German Edition available

Chinese Version available

Dictionary of terms used in Advertising Principles

There are 61 entries in this glossary.
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Term Definition

See advertising elasticity.

ELM (pronounced E-L-M) – Elaboration Likelihood Method

Persuasion follows a central route, i.e., recipients think about the message, when they have the motivation and ability to process the message; however, if they lack either the motivation or ability, persuasion follows peripheral route—they may rely on simple cues, such as, “if he is an expert, it must be right.” Booth-Butterfield and Welbourne (2002) review its impact on research.

Endowment effect

The concept that an object becomes more valuable when one possesses it.

Experience good

A product for which claims can be evaluated only after a period of use by the consumer.


Consumers have seen or heard an ad, even if have they paid little attention to it.

Eye tracking

A research method that determines which part of an advertisement consumers look at, by tracking the pattern of their eye movements. Initial studies have been traced to the 1920s.

FDA (Food and Drug Administration)

FDA (Food and Drug Administration)

Focus group interview

A research method that brings together a small group of consumers to discuss a topic, such as a new product, under the guidance of a trained interviewer. Focus groups are often misused. They should seldom be used for research because they are biased, inefficient, and expensive. They were not designed to evaluate or to predict; but unfortunately, they are often used for these purposes. In short, do not use focus groups to evaluate advertising. Here are the reasons:

  1. Biases occur in selecting samples. Selection of focus group members often necessitates self-selection because it requires that a group meet at a specific time and place.

  2. Sample sizes are small. Because people interact with one another within the group, a researcher cannot claim that the observations of each member are individual.

  3. Responses are biased by other subjects. In scientific work, effort is devoted to ensuring that other subjects do not bias subjects’ responses. In focus groups, people listen to others and they are influenced by their responses.

  4. Biases occur because of the administration. Questions are often modified by the leader to favor a particular answer; such modifications might be unintentional. In addition, customer responses are subject to interpretation, creating another potential bias.

  5. People tend to treat the responses as good predictors. There is no evidence that focus groups provide useful predictions.

  6. Focus groups are expensive.


A typeface style in a single size. A single font in English includes all 26 letters of the alphabet, along with punctuation, numbers, and other characters.

Font size

The size of the font typically measured in points, where a point is approximately 1/82 of an inch.


Questions or statements worded in ways that influence how the viewer interprets them; framing is also known as providing a “perspective.”

FTC (Federal Trade Commission)

The U.S. federal agency primarily responsible for regulating advertising.

Gallup and Robinson

Leading advertising research firm set up by George Gallup and Claude Robinson in 1948. Provided test and normative recall and persuasion scores for the advertisements included in WAPB editions.

Gunning Fog Index

A measure of readability based on the length of sentences and large words. G = 0.4 * (S+W), where S is the average number of words per sentence, and W is the percentage of words with three or more syllables (ignoring common suffixes, such as “ed” and “ing”). The resulting index approximates the number of years of schooling needed to understand the material.. Word processing programs allow for easy assessment of readability. The analysis should exclude tables, references, subtitles, and numbers.

Hedonic product

A product that offers a positive experience; also called transformational products.

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