An interview with Dr. Meeds: How social media has affected the advertising landscape

The scholar that we interviewed for our research project was advertising experiment expert, Robert Meeds. Dr. Meeds is an associate professor at California State University, Fullerton and he teaches in the areas of advertising and integrated marketing communications.

The first thing that we discussed was how people’s ability to process advertisement language has changed from the internet. Professor Meeds responded by saying how one of the biggest changes brought about from internet ads is from the skip button. Meeds emphasized how much of a difference this made by contrasting it with TV ads.

Originally, Meeds explained, most T.V. ads had to be watched fully. However, this was largely changed through the introduction of what are called “zippers” and “zappers”. These new devices gave people the ability to rapidly skip through ads. However, research found that the person fast-forwarding the commercials on the VCR would actually pay closer attention to the commercials during the break in order to try and stop right before the program came back on. This led to a higher retention level of consumers because they were focusing solely on the commercials during the break. 

Meeds explained that whoever had the remote had to pay close attention on when to stop the skip. By being forced to focus on the screen, those with the remote tended to have better memory of the ads that were displayed. This allowed companies to keep ad structure somewhat similar. However, this structure wouldn’t hold with internet ads. In the case of many internet ads, consumers are given the ability to completely skip an ad after having watched enough of it. 

The next topic that we discussed was how language for ads varies for different mediums. One thing that really stood out about this topic is how much social media differs from most other mediums. Meeds said that throughout the past decades, most ads have begun to switch from being heavy in language to being more artistic and visual. He explained that most ad companies found more success with appealing to peoples emotional states than a more pragmatic appeal.

For social media, however, he said that there has been a large resurgence of text heavy advertisements due to social media influencers. He discussed how companies can request social media influencers to do a product review to help endorse their product. Since many people look to influencers for guidance, this provides companies a valuable new source for promotion.  

With Dr. Meeds’ insight into consumer behaviors, we will include a couple questions in our survey research pertaining to how each respondent interacts with advertisements on social media and what kinds of factors will either keep them watching or avoid the ads. Due to the rise of social media with different apps like TikTok, Instagram and more, the way in which advertisements are relayed to the public across platforms has evolved with technology. 

Skipping behaviors such as the ability to skip an ad within 5 seconds on YouTube, has been around since “pre-YouTube days” such as in television. Earlier on, consumers would have to actually stand up and manually change the channel if they didn’t want to sit through ads during their program’s commercial breaks. 

This changed when people would record a program when it was being broadcasted, so they could watch at a later point. This is similar to the characteristics of VCR tapes consumers would buy at stores like BlockBuster in order to bring home and watch the movie. This led to a stream of research that considered if the skipping behaviors and the fast-forwarding of these programs and movies had any effect on the advertisements themselves and the consumer’s retention of the ads.

This stream of research interestingly found that advertising works on multiple exposures. In other words, most advertisements are not meant to only see once, instead they are designed for consumers to see multiple times. 

To further explain, this type of advertisement exposure worked well as a type of “reminder ads”, even though it was an advertisement avoidance behavior. 

This can be translated to YouTube in the sense that when consumers are watching longer videos on YouTube, there are most often ad breaks in the middle of the video. But research focuses on how consumers react to the commercial before the video begins. 

The graph above displays the patterns found in a study of YouTube mobile app ads watched divided by gender and age group.

Consumers are eager to look for the 5-10 second countdown button in order to skip the whole commercial in order to begin the video. There is prominent research these days about how advertisers are using this skip button to their advantage. 

Meeds was explaining to our group that this research explains that advertisers are now pressured to provide the brand name within the first few seconds of the commercial before the consumer skips the ad. 

Most of the time, consumers receive a narrative from these commercials where the advertisers try and keep the brand name a secret until the end of the advertisement where there is a “reveal” of the brand’s name, which provides an entertaining aspect of the commercial. 

But this doesn’t work with YouTube and the small window of consumer retention before their chosen video begins. Meeds explained that the ad becomes worthless if the brand name isn’t shown within those first few seconds of YouTube ads. 

Towards the end of our discussion with Professor Meeds, he provided us with a lot of insight in terms of how to conduct our research.  An important factor for us to consider in our surveys are the demographics that we want to observe. Meeds told our group that the different demographics we reach out to will provide us with information regarding how different ad structures affect different categorizations of people. 

Given this advice, we plan on reaching out to various demographics to make observations about what effects the ads they watch have on their retention and the emotional impact left afterwards. Also, we will make sure to research the impact that social media advertisements have had through TikTok and similar platforms. 

       Time spent discussing each topic

We discussed the topics like advertorials, advertisements on different mediums, ad skips and social media advertisements with Dr. Meeds.


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