CHANGES IN ADVERTISING LANGUAGE?
A Content analysis of magazine advertisements in 1980 and 2000
In recent years, media analysts have speculated about two trends in advertising content. The first is an increase in visual prominence: the growing dominance of visuals at the expense of verbal copy. The second is an increase in openness. Openness refers to the amount of guidance towards a certain message in an advertisement. A content analysis was conducted on 325 advertisements from 1980 and 212 advertisements from 2000, drawn from four magazines, to evaluate the empirical basis of the expected trends. The results support the expectation that advertisements have become more visual, less verbal, and more open during the past decades. No differences were found between magazines and product categories.
These findings corrobate previous studies (Dingena 1994; Leiss, Kline and Jhally 1990; Pollay 1985) which identified a trend towards an increase of 'mainly pictorial ads' and a decline in verbal-copy. In addition, our findings are in accord with previous studies which suggested a trend towards more openness (Dingena 1994; Phillips & McQuarrie 2002).
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