, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 322-336

Enhancing television advertising: same-language subtitles can improve brand recall, verbal memory, and behavioral intent

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Abstract

This research explores how same-language subtitles—on-screen text that matches the spoken language—can enhance advertising effectiveness for television commercials on normal viewing audiences outside of foreign-language or deaf-viewer contexts. A preliminary eye-tracker study shows that same-language subtitles capture disproportionate visual attention, and a first study highlights that same-language commercial subtitles can increase brand recall and memory of other verbal ad information. Three further studies using 12 additional ads reinforce the positive effects of subtitles and show how same-language subtitle effectiveness varies with changes in visual and verbal ad complexity. In addition to showing how subtitles can increase behavioral intent, results also highlight how varying subtitle content affects memory gains and illustrate how subtitles can lead to negative effects in the uncommon situation that brand information is missing from the audio. As the efficacy of television advertising becomes increasingly debated, same-language subtitling is a simple way to boost advertising effectiveness.