The Effect of Media Multitasking on Ad Memory: The Moderating Role of Program-Induced Engagement and Brand Familiarity

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of program-induced engagement on the amount of media multitasking (MM) and its subsequent impact on ad memory. It explored how brand familiarity attenuates or aggravates the detrimental effects of MM on cognitive evaluation of ads. Two lab-based experiments were conducted. The findings of the experiment were three-fold. First, the findings indicate that when the programs were affectively engaging, programs with a high level of cognitive engagement led to a lower level of overall media multitasking than programs with a low level of cognitive engagement. This occurred not only during the programs, but also during the commercial breaks. Second, the findings indicate that even in the same media multitasking situation, people who watched a program with high cognitive engagement reported a higher level of ad memory than people who watched a program with low cognitive engagement suggesting an attentional spillover effect. Third, the findings suggest the possible moderating role of brand familiarity. Brands with a high level of familiarity seem to have reduced the memory deficit effect of media multitasking.