Dissecting commercials: A content analysis inquiry on video advertising

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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Master's Programme in New Media
10 + 74 + 56
As simple as they may seem, advertisements products often encapsulate hidden complex communicative systems. To “see” an advertisement product and to actually “understand” it are two completely different things. Viewers can usually process and judge advertisement’s messages instinctively without really understanding the true source of their reaction. For this reason, the aim of this study is to identify an appropriate method (or methods) that can support a framework for the systematic analysis of advertisement products, especially video commercials. As an auxiliary objective, the research also tries to assess the potential relevance of the developed framework for contexts other than the original one. To justify its relevance, the research highlights how existing studies provide tools that are either outdated, difficult to access or even unsuitable for the analysis of video advertising. To support the development of the framework, the researcher chooses the Content Analysis method. Content Analysis theory provides the rigorous tools needed to develop the core structure of the framework. At the same time, advertisement-related literature and movie theories help identify the relevant aspects to be explored through the framework. To assess the reliability of the framework, it is first tested with different users on a limited number of videos. Secondly, an appropriate test is conducted on a broader sample to verify the relevance of the framework to the thesis’ objective. In summary, the research has produced a detailed analytical framework that, according to the existing literature, takes into account the main features to be considered when analysing commercials. The test results confirm that the framework is reliable, appropriate and functional for its intended purpose. The raw data is also processed and presented to allow for further potential analysis and speculation.
Reunanen, Markku
Thesis advisor
Reunanen, Markku
content analysis, video commercials, advertisement, visual research, quantitative research, new media
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