Current Issue Summary
March 2022 (Vol. 62, Issue 1)
When Consumers Tune Out Advertising Messages: Development and Validation of a Scale to Measure Advertising Disengagement
There’s a wealth of research on engagement in advertising, but little on why people tune out, or disengage from ads. Authors Sanjeev Tripathi and Jatin Pandey (Indian Institute of Management, Indore), Varsha Jain and Anupama Ambika (MICA) and Altaf Merchant (University of Washington/Tacoma), sought to fill this knowledge gap by broadening the definition of disengagement, identifying the cause for it and developing a scale for measuring it. Using a six-step process of development, they started by interviewing industry experts and consumers on understanding the “what, how and why of advertising disengagement and possible approaches for mitigating” it. Disengagement, the authors find, “is a psychological state that reflects a consumer’s passivity and detachment from advertisements at the cognitive and affective levels and is distinct from no engagement.” Their scale includes measures for consumer skepticism, engagement, disengagement and word of mouth. Among the takeaways:
- The consumers interviewed “admitted to disengaging from advertising at different points of time, regardless of the content or context” and expressed disengagement at both the cognitive and emotional levels.
- When they disengaged and disconnected, they had “developed little cognizance of the advertising content and did not discuss it with their peers”—meaning diminished word of mouth.
- Additionally: “Consumer skepticism about advertisements can lead to advertising disengagement and this (also) has a downstream effect on word of mouth” about ads.
- The scale could come in handy for practitioners who may wish to use it in order to “facilitate the segmentation of consumers on the basis of their level of disengagement.”
Read the full article here.