THE IMPACT OF MAGAZINE CREDIBILITY AND THE DEGREE OF
INFORMATION PROCESSING ON ADVERTISING EFFECTIVENESS
Doan-dong 800 Seo-gu Daejeon, Korea 302-729
Savannah State University
P.O. Box 20359, Savannah, GA 31404
The impact of magazine credibility and the degree of information processing on advertising
effectiveness was investigated based on information overload perspective under strictly controlled
experimental conditions. The positive information cue (perceived magazine credibility) had
positive impact on all dependent variables which were used to measure advertising effectiveness
whereas the degree of information processing had positive effect on attitude toward the
advertisement and intention to buy the product.
Key Words: magazine credibility; advertising effectiveness; information processing; information
LITERATURE REVIEW AND RESEARCH DESIGN
The impact of advertising media on advertising has been investigated under the studies on vehicle-
source effect. Even though advertising and marketing practitioners have shown an increasing
interest in evaluating advertising media based on their qualitative characteristics , vehicle-
source effect has been one of the least explored areas in marketing research. The purpose of this
paper is to investigate the impact of magazine credibility and degree of information processing on
advertising based on the information overload concept. Information is loosely defined as
processed data that have been formatted, filtered, classified, sorted, and summarized, which are
meaningful and useful to human beings in their decision making process – information processing.
Information used here is anything that is delivered from information providers such as magazine
advertising to consumers in digitized format of images, texts, music, video on the Net, printed
format of books, newspapers, magazines, audio format of radio broadcasting and telephone
calling, and audio and video formats of TV broadcasting.
In this information age, consumers have been overwhelmed by experiencing information explosion
or information overload. Information overload can be seen everywhere. For example, every year,
60,000 new books and more than 18,000 magazines are being published in the U.S. alone . In
particular digitized format or digital information is one of the main reasons of the information
overload across the world. Carl Shapiro and Hal R. Varian  argued that although creation of
an information good involves high fixed costs, it will cost very low to reproduce it. A Nobel Prize
winning economist, Herbert Simon  used the term problem of information overload by saying
that “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” Davenport and Beck  developed
and popularized the term into attention economy or attention economics, which focus on, for
example, how magazine advertising can attract consumers into its message information so that
they get attention, generate interest, desire and cause action to buy the advertised products or
The outputs of consumer information processing and persuasion by an advertisement are
advertising response variables such as perception of advertisement credibility, attitude toward the
advertisement, attitude toward the brand, and intention to buy the brand.
Shapes Attitude Makes
Information Toward To Buy
Attention Advertisement The Brand
Message Interest &
FIGURE 1: A FRAMEWORK OF CUSTOMER’S INFORMATION PROCESSING
Figure 1 framework is designed to delineate the interaction between brand advertisement and
customer in relation to customer’s information processing. Delivering an initial brand
advertisement will get attention of the aimed customers. Elaborated contents of the message
information create sheer interests and desire of the advertised products and services. Using
various knowledge consumers will begin to sort, classify, and summarize the information overload
in the information processing stage. In this state the information processing reflects a function of a
customer’s knowledge, experiences, and wisdom. That’s why advertisers will produce the
advertising contents for the targeted consumers. After the information processing, it will provide
the customers with how to shape their perception of the advertisement credibility, attitude toward
advertisement, and attitude toward the brand, which lead to make an intention to or not to buy the
Studies which investigated the effects of media on advertising found that a variety of variables
such as attitude toward the products, perceptions of the advertisements, and attitude toward the
sponsors were influenced by the magazines in which the advertisements appeared   .
Some studies, however, suggested that the media effect on advertising might vary depending on
advertising objectives, copy approaches, vehicle types, usage of the products  , and levels of
Many advertising researchers and practitioners believe that the perceived credibility of a medium
can be generalized to the perception of an advertisement appearing in that medium and ultimately
affect the effectiveness of the advertisement  . Even though the information overload
concept does not suggest that magazine credibility has any impact on advertising effectiveness, a
positive information cue such as high magazine credibility would not harm the effectiveness of an
advertisement appearing in a highly credible magazine. Based on the above discussions, the
following hypotheses were proposed.
Hypothesis 1: Magazine credibility has a positive effect on the perception of advertisement
Hypothesis 2: Magazine credibility has a positive effect on the attitude toward the advertisement.
Hypothesis 3: Magazine credibility has a positive effect on the attitude toward the brand.
Hypothesis 4: Magazine credibility has a positive effect on the intention to buy the brand.
A magazine advertisement would be more effective when consumers can attend, process, and
understand the information presented in the advertisement. So, concerning to the impact of the
degree of information processing, the following hypotheses were proposed.
Hypothesis 5: The degree of information processing has a positive effect on the perception of
Hypothesis 6: The degree of information processing has a positive effect on the attitude toward
Hypothesis 7: The degree of information processing has a positive effect on the attitude toward
Hypothesis 8: The degree of information processing has a positive effect on the intention to buy
There are two independent variables in this study: magazine credibility and the degree of
information processing which was measured by perceived message ambiguity. Magazine
credibility was manipulated by stating in introductory page of the questionnaire either that the
experimental advertisement appeared in one of three magazines which were evaluated as the most
credible magazines by the university students or that the experimental advertisement appeared in
one of three magazines which were evaluated as the most uncredible magazines by the university
students. The magazine credibility manipulation check was done by four seven-point, bipolar
semantic differential scales used by Rimmer and Weaver .
The degree of information processing was manipulated by giving subjects either 20 seconds or 2
minutes to read the test advertisement. The degree of information processing manipulation check
was done by message ambiguity measures. The initial measure of message ambiguity which
measured the degree of information processing was measured using six seven-point, bipolar
semantic differential scales and they were (1) hard to understand/easy to understand, (2) not
informative/informative, (3) not helpful to judge the brand/helpful to judge the brand, (4)
unclear/clear, (5) complex/not complex, and (6) confusing/not confusing. These 6 items were
reviewed by 3 marketing experts (marketing professors) and all 3 judges agreed that the items
looked like they measured the message ambiguity construct. The four dependent variables used to
measure advertising effectiveness include advertisement credibility , attitude toward the
advertisement , attitude toward the brand , and intention to buy the brand . Each
dependent variable was measured by the sum of three seven-point, bipolar semantic differential
scales. An advertisement for a fictitious toothpaste was created and used as the test advertisement
for this study. The toothpaste advertisement was selected, in part, because all subjects would use
toothpaste. An unfamiliar brand name was used to eliminate any prior brand image or knowledge.
Subjects were students of a university in Korea.
RESULTS OF THE EXPERIMENT
One hundred and eighty five students participated in the experiment and 163 usable observations
were made. Four observations were eliminated because of the incomplete questionnaire. Eighteen
observations from the subjects who suspected the purpose of the experiment were also eliminated
from the analysis. No subject said that they knew the brand name.
Reliability of Measures
Before the hypothesis testing, reliability of measures was assessed. In terms of reliability,
Cronbach alphas for the measures of magazine credibility, message ambiguity, advertisement
credibility, attitude toward the advertisement, attitude toward the brand, and intention to buy
were 0.83, 0.77, 0.82, 0.82, 0.93, and 0.93 respectively, indicating that all measures were reliable.
The manipulation check for the magazine credibility treatment was done by calculating the mean
values for the perceived credibility of high and low magazine credibility conditions and comparing
the mean values using a t-test. The results showed that the mean value of the perceived credibility
for high magazine credibility condition was 14.87 and the mean value for low magazine credibility
condition was 12.38 and that the mean value of the perceived credibility for high magazine
credibility condition was significantly different from that of low magazine credibility condition (p-
value = 0.000). The manipulation check for high and low degree of information processing
treatments was done by calculating the mean values for the perceived message ambiguity for each
condition and, again, comparing the mean values using a t-test. The mean value of the perceived
message ambiguity for high degree of information processing condition was 26.39 and the mean
value for low degree of information processing condition was 23.51 and the two mean values
were significantly different (p-value = 0.009).
To test the hypotheses an ANOVA with 2 (high vs. low media credibility) × 2 (high vs. low
message ambiguity) factorial design was performed on each dependent variable and the results are
presented in Table 1. According to Table 1 all main effects of magazine treatment on dependent
variables were significant with p-values less than 0.05 while main effects of information
processing treatment were significant only on the dependent variables of attitude toward the
advertisement and intention to buy.
TABLE 1: THE RESULTS OF ANOVA TESTS
Source Magazine Ambiguity Magazine* Error
DF 1 1 1 159
Advertisement MS 72.568 0.438 13.126 12.188
credibility F 5.954* 0.036 1.077
Attitude toward MS 159.399 66.151 7.825 12.485
the advertisement F 12.767** 5.298* 0.627
Attitude toward MS 103.954 9.667 28.832 9.542
the brand F 10.895** 1.013 3.022
Intention to buy MS 115.849 202.651 28.832 9.542
F 5.115* 8.948** 3.022
* indicates p-value less than 0.05, greater than 0.01
** indicates p-value less than 0.01
In terms of the main effect of magazine treatment, the credible magazine condition had a positive
effect on advertising, supporting the hypothesis 1, 2, 3, and 4. More specifically, the mean values
for advertisement credibility under the high magazine credibility treatment and under the low
magazine credibility treatment were 11.16 and 9.84 respectively. Those for the attitude toward
the advertisement measure were 12.47 and 10.57 respectively. For the attitude toward the brand
measure, the mean value under the high magazine credibility condition was 13.80 and that under
the low magazine credibility condition was 12.25. Finally, the mean values for intention to buy
under the high magazine credibility treatment and under the low magazine credibility treatment
were 12.34 and 10.80 respectively. All mean differences were significant with p-values less than
0.05. Concerning the main effect of the degree of information processing treatment, high degree
of information processing condition had positive effects on attitude toward the advertisement and
intention to buy, supporting only the hypothesis 6 and 8. The mean values for attitude toward the
advertisement under the high degree of information process condition and under the low degree of
information process condition were 12.20 and 11.00 respectively. Those for the intention to buy
measure were 12.77 and 10.55 respectively
The overall results of this study indicate that advertisers can enhance the effectiveness of their
advertisements by selecting a credible medium. These results have significant implications on the
pricing of the advertising media and the media selection method. For the media provider who
publishes a highly credible magazine, the results suggest that it can charge higher prices for
advertising space in its medium because a highly credible medium provides more value to
advertisers. For advertisers, the results of this study indicate that they need to consider the
vehicle-source effect in selecting advertising media. Furthermore, this study suggests that the
attitude toward the advertisement and intention to buy the product can be enhanced by aiding
consumers to understand advertisement contents. To improve consumers’ understanding of an
advertisement, advertisers need to use plain words for target market, not technical terminology
used by industry, and provide just enough pieces of information to process in time, but not
information overload, when the advertising media limit the time for processing information.
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