Advertising and eLearning: Can You Spot the Similarities?

Advertising and eLearning: Can You Spot the Similarities?

Actually, the similarities between these two exciting fields are amazing, including terminology – one small example, “storyboards”! The challenges are also common – fleeting attention of audience, constraints of space and time, difficulty in measuring their effectiveness…

I have started my career in Marketing and Sales and even taught Advertising Management for a while. Studying the principles and practices of advertising and relating them to the design and development of eLearning programs can be an exhilarating experience.

I think that eLearning professionals can learn a lot from the dynamic and relatively more mature field of Advertising. We all know and experienced the power of advertising!

Actually, advertising aims to change behavior and learning is defined as a permanent change in behavior. The former changes buyers’ behavior and the later changes employee behavior to improve performance (in a corporate setting). Both are a sophisticated form of communication.

I would like to share a traditional model of communication used in advertising. The AIDA model suggests that an advertising campaign should attract Attention, gain Interest, create Desire, and precipitate Action.

Another hierarchy model is particularly interesting because of its close ties with social psychology theory. It includes 6 stages – awareness, knowledge, liking, preference, conviction and purchase. The stages can be divided into 3 components corresponding to a social psychologists concept of an attitude system. The first stage, consisting of awareness and knowledge, is comparable to the cognitive or the knowledge component of attitude. The affective component of an attitude, the like-dislike aspect, is represented by liking and preference levels. The remaining attitude component is the conative component, the action or motivation element, represented by conviction and purchase levels.

If we can study these theories and juxtapose them with what we use in learning, we may come out with some interestingly new approaches.

I will be very interested to read your views. Thank you for reading my blog.

RK Prasad


  • Hi,

    Very interesting, I agree with you. Keep posting and best of luck.



  • Great food for thought. Probably not to the same extent as you, but I also have my foot in both places – learning and marketing. My primary background is learning and advertising is relatively new area of study for me. In learning, we need to add measurement of the action (performance), so to blend the two ideas there needs to be a bit of modification of AIDA – but I like the whole idea.

  • A bold pronouncement and I agree with you 100%!

    The products mostly available today that present e-Learning are little more than video streams of lectures and/or PowerPoint presentations screen-captured and presented with some narration and possibly a little music. Yet digital natives are engaged by “broadcast-like” programming and that includes “advertisements”: CNBC, MTV, MSNBC, and other edu-taining content.

    Certainly, academia per se will resist. They will contend that teaching requires a pedagogy that does not include the features of engagement the likes of which we speak. And business training consumers will follow academia – at least for awhile.

    I, however, agree with you and I anticipate more training and learning materials developers will design, deliver (make available), and measure (the impact of) short bursts of adver-ed once a few pioneers demonstrate its effectiveness.

    Duke University (via i-Tunes U store) has some compelling examples like a “conversational presentation” by Dan Ariely (author of Predictably Irrational) and experimenting with some more edu-taining approaches as well and has published a Henry Jenkins comment that speaks to this topic quite well. ( ).

    Real-time, demand-driven (need) mobi-available learning opportunities WILL provide rich new areas of study leading to new approaches in viable e-Learning products and I am, and will continue to be, in that mix.

    (If approved by my dissertation committee, my topic will be “Web 2.0 – Digital Media & Digital Devices: Enabling Anytime, Anywhere Learning – Made More Effective By Enhancing Engagement of e-Learning”.)

    Thank you for introducing the topic in this discussion!

    Respectfully submitted,

  • Sridhar – Thanks. Any thoughts from your experience?

    Richard – Thank for responding. I do agree with you that advertising models do require to be modified, for sure!

  • MariAn Klein

    Your comparison is right on the spot. In my recent past, while working for a large company in corporate training, I began to see executives really understand that learning = marketing. Another element to this is that both learning and advertising are finite initiatives. Ad campaigns have a shelf-life just like learning. Thanks for your insights.

  • Thanks, MariAn. The similarities are many; so are th eopportunities to learn and apply them.

  • Ivichie – Thank you. May I request you to elucidate why it rubs you the wrong way?

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