Advertising Context Effects
The impact of responses to programme context (e.g., mood, excitement, involvement) on embedded advertisements have been studied extensively (e.g., De Pelsmacker, Geuens, & Anckaert, 2002). This context can have either a stimulating or an inhibiting effect on the processing of an embedded advertisement. Mental processes evoked by the programme have an influence on the processing of the advertisement embedded in the programme. Positive or congruent context effects are caused by the “carry-over” principle of the programme-induced attention, liking, interest, or arousal toward the advertisement that follows (Moorman, Neijens, & Smit, 2005). Negative or contrasting relationships have been explained by the cognitive absorption of the programme, leaving less cognitive abilities for processing the advertisement (Lang, 2000).
Interactivity and Information Processing
Interactivity can be defined in different ways. Wu (2005) distinguishes between actual or feature-based interactivity and perceived interactivity. McMillan and Hwang (2002) define three underlying dimensions of interactivity: two-way communication, user control, and time delay.
A considerable amount of empirical studies have investigated the effects of the interactivity of a message vehicle on an individual’s cognitive information processing in an Internet context. Some studies found a positive impact of interactivity on memory (Chung & Xinshu, 2004; Macias, 2003), while others found no impact or even a negative impact (Bezijan-Avery, Calder, & Iacobucci, 1998). The cognitive load theory (CLT; Van Merriënboer & Sweller, 2005) can be used to explain both. The CLT assumes that the human working memory is limited in processing novel information. There are broadly two types of cognitive load that can affect the working memory (Van Merriënboer & Sweller): intrinsic cognitive load, which is related to the intrinsic nature of the information (in this study the questions and answers of the quiz programme, and the content of the additional programme information), and extraneous cognitive load, which corresponds to the mental effort imposed by the way the information is presented (for instance, in this study, programme interactivity). According to the elaboration likelihood model (Petty & Cacioppo, 1981), extensive information processing only occurs when the consumer is motivated to process the information. When this prerequisite is accomplished, he or she must also have the ability (cognitive capacity) to do so. The amount of interactivity can have an influence on both mechanisms. Interactivity can increase involvement with the content (Fortin & Dholakia, 2005), which increases the motivation to process the information. However, following the CLT, interactivity can also increase the total cognitive load, and thus diminishes the ability to process information. Therefore, depending on the strength of the intrinsic cognitive load, the individual will or will not have enough ability to process the information (the interactive programme), which will further influence the processing of the embedded advertisement.
In this study, we investigate the context effects of two dimensions of programme interactivity representing a low level of intrinsic load (user control regarding information about the programme, candidates, host) and a high level of intrinsic load (two-way communication involving the questions and answers in the quiz) on ad and brand recall.