Reaching insomniacs with television PSAs: Poor placement of important messages

Alyse R. Lancaster, Kent M. Lancaster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Most of the research conducted on the effectiveness of public service announcements has focused on improving internal characteristics of advertisements, such as message design and appropriate targeting. Scant research has been conducted on PSA effectiveness in terms of media placement. The purpose of this study is to estimate the audience coverage achieved by the broadcast television portion of the Ad Council's drunk driving prevention campaign. The results show that on average, only 11.2% of households in the top 30 markets were exposed to at least one of the PSAs in a monthly campaign. Almost half of the total 962 advertisements were aired during late night (1:00 a.m.-6:59 a.m.) whereas fewer than 10% were aired during prime time. Overall, the data suggest that despite the seemingly large amount of airtime and media dollars donated to PSAs by television stations, the advertisements are reaching a very limited number of people. Since most public service messages are important, failure to reach consumers with these PSAs due to poor placement is a problem that broadcasters must continue to address.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-170
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Consumer Affairs
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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