Saturday, 31 March 2012



This research in advertising focuses in finding methods to understand the target audience in a design process.
In advertising, what is the most important thing to know?
The answer is very simple; it's to know the target audience. Advertising involves message, conveying to people whose business you would like to gain. It is a form of communication to a specific group of buyers. Successful communication is one the one which succeeds in encouraging or persuading an audience. This form of communication makes its audience take some action. 
Following the steps of this research diary:

  • Defining the target audience and understanding them through existing design methods.
  • Applying design methodologies on an existing practise in reverse order and formalising it.
  • Analysing and evaluating the examples.
  • Finally, a user centred methodology can easily be developed after completing this research. One can easily produce a good range of design intended to a specific target audience. 


                                                      Who is the target audience?
Before creating an effective presentation material whether it's a design or communication we need to establish who the target audience is. For instance, when you write an email you don't sit down and begin typing without first determining who the email will be addressed to. If you are emailing to your mother you will no doubt design the message differently than writing to your best friend. The execution will change and style also changes accordingly to who you are communicating to. The same holds true for your target audience. We first set criteria, although sometime subconsciously to communicate in such a way that audience will accept it. These same principles apply when you are addressing your target audience through advertising. The questions like:
  • What kind of profession they are into?
  • What are there likes and dislikes?
  • What is there lifestyle?
  • In what category of age they belong to?
  • What kind of music do they listen to?
  • What are their choice regarding products?
Answers to the above questions will support you a lot in planning and also in designing stage. It will make the job easier in terms of communication and also to create something with which your target audience can relate to themselves. 


Followed in Advertising

The above existing design methods to determine the target audience and their visual preference.

  • Design problem
The first stage of the design process is defining problem.

1. It's about problem solving issues.
2. Analyzing the brief.
3. Defining the problem.
4. Identifying audience: To communicate effectively with the audience, the design team needs to design specific target audience. The campaign that tries to relate with the public at large or not as successful as those that deal with smaller audiences.
All the suitable solution issues require different elements of research such as fact finding, locating, recording and collecting information. It is this stage where the design team gets to know about the target audience: their likes, dislikes, interests. 

  • Divergent Research

The divergent search thus persuades three main reasons of research: 
1. Quantitative Research The design team take the reference and assess the designs according to its typeface, type size, and type colour, visual imaging, ambience and colours. By identifying some common point through the reference the first conclusion can be drawn towards the visual language. 
2. Qualitative Research The research includes various kinds of approaches:
    - Market research
    - Awareness
    - Costs
    - Historical relevance
    - Practical investigation
3. Visualising Research Target: As a part of the visual research, design team gathers a collection of creative reference that was designed to appeal to the audience. The design team asks the team member to cut out images, type, colours, anything they found appealing. They then pasted their clippings on to the large sheet of paper to create “mood boards”. The mood boards helps to decide colour palette and typeface tests later on in the design process.
After this, the design team set bullet points which should be covered as criteria, that will be followed the design process to evaluate the creative outcome. 
  • Design development:
  • Creative outcome

The first initial ideas based upon information gathered from the number of approaches are investigated on the specific target audiences. Evaluates the creative outcome and the feedback from the target audience and also includes the member of the client organisation. 

Final stage, re- evaluating from the criteria and from client feedbacks. The design team will adopt suitable working procedure to rework and bring final outcomes. 

On the other hand, taking what I have learnt from above and continuing further to identify and understand the preference and reversing it other way from an audience. I looked at one specific ad, worked upon to find out who is the target audience, which is said to be reverse engineering. 

Ad Campaign for Volkswagen 
  • Client – Volkswagen
  • Brand – RNS 510 Navigation System
  • Brand Promise – It is more than a GPS, as it allows drivers to enjoy their favourite films and movies.
Objective - Analyse an ad campaign to understand the design process and methods in reverse order.
Aim – Different approach of understanding and communicating with the target audience.
Learning outcomes – Understand the target audience and their visual preference. 


  1.  Describe: In the visual four ways of isolated road is shown. The ad is executed in landscape visual, showing a remote area in a late night with a full moon. Played with cool dark blue in the ambience. In the middle of the road famous pop star Michael Jackson is standing in his dance step pointing out in one direction.
  2. Identify: Michael Jackson is standing in the middle pointing out index finger. The light on Michael Jackson identifies where the car is coming from.

  1. Describe: In visual 3 repeating the patterns of showing isolated road going to four different ways in landscape visual. A man wearing white suit is dancing in the centre of the road and pointing out in a direction.
  2. Identify: From the famous American movie 'Saturday Night Fever' actor John Travolta is dancing and pointing in a direction. 

  1. Describe: In visual 2 same four ways of isolated roads is shown same in landscape view. The ad 2 seems to be in early morning by seeing the light source. In the middle of the road famous British rock band vocalist Freddy Mercury is standing holding a mick at one hand and pointing out somewhere from the other hand.
  2. Identify: Centre point of the road Famous vocalist Freddie Mercury is standing singing and directing in one direction. 

Interpret/ Decode: This ad campaign focuses on a type of a product from Volkswagen which has both navigation and music system synchronised. As the product is meant for music and entertainment lovers, this campaign create a very subtle ambience in all the ads focussing on different times in a day. In the first ad (AD1) it shows the famous pop singer Michael Jackson who ruled the music world,with a huge fan following, standing in the middle of the road at night in one of his famous dance moves which also gives a feel as if he is showing us the direction by pointing out finger.

How did they help to convey the message?
This ad is a perfect example to understand the visual preference of a target audience as the main characters shown in the ad campaign are the famous music artists. Because of which one can easily make out the general message of the ad. All of them have a strong musical background and they are also known for their famous dance moves.

This ad can be related to a certain age group of people who likes to listen music of this genre. It focuses on the people would like this navigation system to be installed in their car and are also related to these singer.

Its a challenge to demonstrate the ability on the same basic concept of product benefit but on the other hand mapping on a different age group.
Further getting into the ad:

  • Rationalizing it who might buy the car
  • Who can relate to these artists?
The span of time can be calculated from this campaign which is about from 1977 which was ruled by Saturday Night Fever to 1990 by Michael Jackson.

If we need to reconstruct the same ad for the younger generation especially the young drivers on the road, for the 18 year old age group, the ad will be more meaningful and favourable to them only if I use famous contemporary music artists who are known for their own dance moves and music. If we do this ad campaign again specifying current generation and by taking music artist according to their preferences,we can achieve it by keeping the same visual of the ads and replacing the artist.


Doing a market survey is the best way to know what your target audience is thinking and what they’ll respond to. The most effective way to know them better is to make focus groups, so consider ways to conduct individual interviews if possible. But since time period and funds don’t always allow for this, we can turn to social media instead for this type of one-on-one engagement by posting polls on Facebook and Twitter, posing questions to your LinkedIn groups, emailing and more.

Reconstructing the ad after studying the preferences of the current generation I short-listed 3 music artists and replaced in it existing ad.
Learning outcome: By understanding the current generation through market survey knowing their interests, lifestyle, likes and dislikes. The communication focus has changed by replacing the artists. Everybody might know them but its just the current generation who follow them.

After trying and testing how much the preference of a target audience matters, I have tried to analyse what if the message is changed? To analyse this thought of mine, I have taken the ads reconstructed by me and changed the background showing the hustle bustle life of the New York city. By doing this the target audience just shrinks to a specific region instead of focussing on the global audience. Therefore, it clearly proves how much a visual matters to convey the message to the audience targeted.


After completing this research I have developed methods on how to understand our target audience using different modes of communication like social networking site, personal interviews, market surveys etc. After the research stage the task is to respond to their preferences based on the market survey. One of the most important aspect in this stage is to make the design appealing so that the audience targeted can easily relate to it. A successful campaign will easily reflect on the sales of the product. I believe a combination of theme, concept and message all together contribute to make an ad successful.


  • Define the target audience and understand them through existing design methods.
  • Analyse how the visual preference change by changing the target audience.
  • Evaluate existing method in the design process. 

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