Definition: DAGMAR is a popular advertising strategy brought forward by Russell Colley in a 1961 report presented to the US Association of National Advertisers. This report was titled “Defining Advertising Goals for Measured Advertising Results” (DAGMAR). The theory aims at setting defined and measurable advertising goals or objectives. 

Both Colley and Solomon Dutka expanded it in 1995. According to Colley, an advertising objective refers to the timely realization of a specific communication task among the appropriate audience with the desired degree of effectiveness. The DAGMAR model is often referred to as a hierarchy of effects or response hierarchy model (along with similar models like the AIDA model).

Content: DAGMAR

DAGMAR Model Explained

The model’s main proposal is captured in the following statement:

DAGMAR Statement

Thus, the four levels of DAGMAR understanding are:

  1. Awareness: The prospect will first gain knowledge of a brand or organization’s existence;
  2. Comprehension: He/she will have extensive knowledge of what the product is and what it will do for him/her;
  3. Conviction: He/she will then arrive at a mental agreement to buy the product;
  4. Action: Finally, he/she will proceed with the purchase of the product.

Collectively, the above levels are referred to as the ACCA advertising formula (based on the first letter of each stage).

Levels of DAGMAR Understanding


The argument here is that the prospect or consumer must first be aware of a product or company before making any purchase decision. On creating the needed awareness among the target segment or audience by the advertiser, such understanding must not suffer neglect. Instead, it should be continuous and prone to refinements according to market characteristics and prevailing conditions in the company. 

Neglect is undesirable because it can make the target audience pay more attention to advertisements from competitors. This can reduce the level of awareness of a company’s products and unpleasant consequences. 


Awareness is a necessary condition for inducing consumer purchase, but it is not always a sufficient condition. This is because the consumer also needs to understand the product before committing his or her resources to it.

For example, the consumer needs comprehension of things like the product’s ingredients, price, expiry date, and other characteristics.


At this level, the consumer is psychologically convinced to invest in the product because it satisfies their requirements. The advert should be such that it emotionally influences the consumer by explaining the perks of the product.

For instance, the product is more affordable than others in the same class; its technology is superior to rivals.


Here, the consumer is expected to react by taking action towards purchasing the product. This action is based on the encouraging messages communicated by the advert.

Features of Advertising Objective

In articulating his model, Colley enumerated what he felt are the attributes of an ideal advertising objective. He posited that such an objective must have the following characteristics:

Measurable and concrete communication tasks

The communications task should be a precise statement indicating the achievements expected by the advertiser from the communication. For example, Does the firm intend to increase its market share or profits via increased product patronage? The measurement procedure also has to be captured in the statement. 

Define the target audience or market

The target audience is the segment of society that exhibits the significant probability of investing in the product. The target market can be segmented through variables such as the nature of the product, population, geography, consumers’ psychological attributes (psychological segmentation), etc.   

This target audience or market can be primary or secondary. The former is the group on which an advertising campaign initially concentrate. This is because the firm anticipates that this target market will first patronize the new product. 

Those outside the primary target market that may purchase the product once the company/product becomes more recognizable are referred to as the secondary market.

Identify the benchmark and expected degree of change

One of the DAGMAR model demands is to measure the success of an advertising campaign. To achieve this requires adopting a measurement benchmark. This benchmark helps the firm find out the initial position of the target market at the commencement of the campaign in terms of awareness, knowledge/understanding, perceptions, and attitudes.

The firm should equally indicate the level of change expected from the campaign. For instance, to raise the awareness level, influence prospects’ attitudes, attract more patronage, etc.  

In a nutshell, adopting a benchmark enhances a firm’s understanding of a market and enables it to develop a suitable campaign strategy for that market.

Specify a time duration for accomplishing the objectives

The focus here is allocating a reasonable time frame for evaluating the success or otherwise of a newly launched product.


Say company A intends to determine how effective the marketing campaign for its newest product is. It then decides to evaluate the ad created to convince prospects to proceed through the ACCA stages of the purchasing process discussed above. It includes:

  • The first stage involves creating awareness for consumers to realize that a new product is available.
  • In the second stage, the company enhances consumers’ comprehension by communicating the product’s features and how it can benefit the consumers. It also reminds intending users of its logo and brand name.
  • The third stage is when the company appeals to the consumers’ emotions to create a conviction to purchase the product.
  • In the last stage, consumers take the desired action, implying some sales by Company A. 

After the process, company A decides to utilize the DAGMAR model to measure the marketing campaign’s success (or otherwise). The firm precisely determines the customer’s extent of passing through each of the four stages and the number of sales it made.

 If more customers ended their journey within the first three stages, the organization couldn’t meet its sales goals. Then the company realizes it has to alter the ad campaign.

Objectives of DAGMAR Model

The model enables firms to set defined and measurable goals, which may include:

  • Calculating the success rate of new products
  • Promoting communication between company and customer
  • Creating awareness about a product and a brand
  • Educating potential clients about a product’s features and benefits
  • Creating an emotional attachment between the prospect and the product
  • Compelling potential customers to purchase the product, thus leading to increased sales and more profit
  • Helping firms to determine their target markets or audience
  • Determining the best ways to induce changes in consumer behaviour
  • Discarding ineffective advertising or marketing campaigns
  • Increasing market share, etc.

Criticisms of DAGMAR Model

Despite its popularity, DAGMAR has been reprimanded for several reasons. Some of them are discussed below:

Criticisms of DAGMAR Model

Problems with Response Hierarchy

Some have argued that consumers’ behaviour does not always conform with the ACCA sequence of the hierarchy of effects models like the DAGMAR model.

Emphasizes Communication Over Sales

DAGMAR emphasizes the achievement of other communication objectives rather than just sales alone. This has frowned since it insists that a marketing or advertising campaign aims to increase sales and profit.

Inhibits Creativity

It is also argued that the planned and strictly structured stages of the model do not allow marketing and advertising teams to be at their creative best. This may not be an ideal scenario in the modern business environment where innovation through creativity is essential for survival. 

Applicability and Costs

The costs of practically applying the DAGMAR model can be high. For instance, it can require elaborate and costly quantitative research to formulate target objectives and measurement approaches. Hence, it has been suggested that the model is more suitable for big companies with large advertising budgets and research capabilities.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: