Keep It Snappy, Please, Paying For Service, Etc.

No wonder long-copy ads are a dying species. A Yankelovich poll (summarized in one of the research firm’s Monitor Minute bulletins) asked people whether they “feel positive” about various sorts of advertising and marketing. Just 15 percent said they’re favorably disposed toward “marketing and advertising that is longer with detailed information, descriptions and pitches.” Twice as many feel positive about marketing and advertising “that provides lifestyle information and tips instead of product information.” Somewhat more of the respondents (37 percent) said they like marketing/advertising “that provides info about competitive brands and products that might be beneficial or of interest to me.” We assume they don’t care in the least whether such an approach would prove beneficial to the advertiser.

The typical college dorm room must look something like a Circuit City warehouse these days. A poll by Student Monitor found that 44 percent of college students now own a digital camera, 31 percent a CD recorder or burner, 27 percent an iPod or other portable digital music player, 17 percent a television/ DVD combination and 13 percent a photo-quality digital printer. Do they also own books? One can only hope.

Want to find a new outlet for your advertising? Chase Commercial Banking has found one—or, actually, more than one. In a campaign aimed at business travelers, Chase has put up a bunch of signpost ads that point to electrical outlets at Indianapolis International Airport. People in the target audience often need to locate such outlets to recharge their laptop computers and cell phones—hence the message in the ad shown here, “You and your laptop may sigh with relief now.” Smaller type offers this invitation: “Now that your laptop is charged, e-mail a Chase Commercial banker about energizing the rest of your business.” The text closes with the Web address. Bradley and Montgomery of Indianapolis created the campaign.

Apparently, high-definition TV needs more definition. In a survey by Ipsos Insight, 90 percent of U.S. adults said they’ve heard of HDTV. But just over half as many (47 percent) said they “know anything substantial about it.” Sounds like a mission for advertising, you might say. But among those who’ve heard of HDTV, most (84 percent) said they’ve seen ads for it within the past month. Even allowing for the inattentive souls who actually saw a cat-food commercial and thought it was touting HDTV, we can surmise that current ads for the technology aren’t terribly informative. Then again, many HDTV-aware respondents (66 percent) have formed an impression that it’s “too expensive,” and this may have inoculated them against learning anything else about it. If and when the price point comes down, consumer understanding of HDTV could take a great leap forward.

Shoppers often complain about poor service, but do they do anything about it? A poll by WSL Strategic Retail presented consumers with the sentence, “I paid a little more to shop where the service was better,” and asked how it described their holiday shopping last month. Just 15 percent said they did more of this in 2005 than in 2004, matching the number who said they did less of it. The rest said there’d been no change in their propensity to pay more for better service (or not). Elsewhere in the survey, 21 percent of those polled said they enjoyed holiday shopping more in 2005 than they had the previous year, while 27 percent said they enjoyed it less.

Lucky thing a pregnancy lasts just nine months. In a study by The NPD Group, 63 percent of women who got maternity clothes in the past year agreed that it’s hard to find fashionable attire in this category. The research firm noted that some pregnant women “have resorted to wearing either oversized clothing or activewear to fulfill their desire for fashionable and comfortable clothing.”

If those gizmos weren’t already known as “computers,” someone would probably come up with a more suitable name for them. A new Harris Interactive survey indicates the extent to which consumers use their home computers for tasks other than those you’d categorize as “computing” (see chart at top right). From its findings, Harris extrapolates that there’s a growing market for “dual-core processing.” (“It’s the equivalent of getting two microprocessors in one,” enabling the user to perform multiple tasks at the same time without overtaxing the computer.) At present, the computer-owning public is split between those who are wholly unaware of the technology (48 percent) and those who claim either to be “somewhat” familiar with it (42 percent) or to “know it cold” (10 percent).

Creating ads aimed at college students? Keep them simple. Very, very simple. A study conducted by the American Institutes for Research and funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts measured students’ literacy in dealing with continuous prose (such as a news story), documents (such as a train schedule) and quantitative tasks (such as calculating a tip). It found a minority of students to be highly skilled in any of these areas, with quantitative skills the weakest. In prose literacy, 38 percent of students at four-year colleges were rated “proficient,” 56 percent “intermediate,” 6 percent “basic” and 1 percent “below basic.” In document literacy, 40 percent were judged proficient, 55 percent intermediate, 5 percent basic and 1 percent below basic. (Percentages exceed 100 due to rounding.) In quantitative literacy: 34 percent proficient, 46 percent intermediate, 19 percent basic and 1 percent below basic. The figures were consistently worse for students in two-year programs. (Lest you think the standards were unduly strict, an example of “proficient” quantitative skill was “computing and comparing the cost per ounce of food items”; “basic” document literacy was exemplified by “using a television guide to find out what programs are on at a specific time.”) At four-year colleges, men were more likely than women to be rated proficient in quantitative literacy (39 percent vs. 30 percent) as well as document literacy (43 percent vs. 38 percent). Roughly equal numbers won a proficient rating in prose literacy (38 percent of men, 37 percent of women).