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DAGMAR: An Approach to Setting Objectives

In 1961, Russell Colley prepared a report for the Association of National Advertisers titled Defining Advertising Goals for Measured Advertising Results (DAGMAR).13 In it, Colley developed a model for setting advertising objectives and measuring the results of an ad campaign. The major thesis of the DAGMAR model is that communications effects are the logical basis for advertising goals and objectives against which success or failure should be measured. Colley's rationale for communications-based objectives was as follows:

Advertising's job, purely and simply, is to communicate to a defined audience information and a frame of mind that stimulates action. Advertising succeeds or fails depending on how well it communicates the desired information and attitudes to the right people at the right time and at the right cost.14

Under the DAGMAR approach, an advertising goal involves a communications task that is specific and measurable. A communications task, as opposed to a marketing task, can be performed by, and attributed to, advertising rather than to a combination of several marketing factors. Colley proposed that the communications task be based on a hierarchical model of the communications process with four stages:

• Awareness—making the consumer aware of the existence of the brand or company.

• Comprehension—developing an understanding of what the product is and what it will do for the consumer.

• Conviction—developing a mental disposition in the consumer to buy the product.

• Action—getting the consumer to purchase the product.

As discussed earlier, other hierarchical models of advertising effects can be used as a basis for analyzing the communications response process. Some advertising theorists prefer the Lavidge and Steiner hierarchy of effects model, since it is more specific and provides a better way to establish and measure results.15

While the hierarchical model of advertising effects was the basic model of the communications response process used in DAGMAR, Colley also studied other specific tasks that advertising might be expected to perform in leading to the ultimate objective of a sale. He developed a checklist of 52 advertising tasks to characterize the contribution of advertising and serve as a starting point for establishing objectives.

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