Putting Things into Context: A Meta-Analysis of Media Context Effects on Attitudinal Outcomes

Abstract: The role of media context in advertising has been the subject of interest for marketers and media practitioners over the past fifty years. However, there remains a lack of clarity on the relationship between media context and advertising outcomes. To structure previous literature and facilitate knowledge development, this study meta-analytically examines the relationship between media context and attitudinal outcome measures (i.e., consumers’ attitudes toward the ad/brand/product and purchase intentions). A total of 31 years of research findings, 96 studies and 597 effect sizes involving 139,233 research participants were synthesized. The key findings suggest that different media context facets leverage consumers’ attitudes and PI differently. Felt involvement with media, transportation (consumers’ experience of becoming non-volitional and absorbed in the media contexts), and perceived trust/credibility of media vehicles exhibited a stronger influence on attitudes/PI. Media-ad congruence, the most commonly examined media context among objective contexts, resulted in a very weak influence on attitudes/PI. The context effect also differed by advertising-related characteristics and extraneous methodological factors. Accordingly, there is a need for both academia and practice to revisit the media context construct with a fresh eye.