How to analyze an advertisement?

If the ad does not answer some essential questions, it will not work. We can summarize them in the five basic questions that every communicator must ask himself: what, who, when, where and how to analyze an advertisement. Before developing or analyzing any advertising message, we should make sure that we can answer these questions. Many of them can be answered through image and design without saying a word.

How to analyze an advertisement?

how to analyze an advertisement

Characters involved in advertising:

Sex, approximate age (if they are children, youth, adults), possible social class (low, medium-low, medium-high, high). Activities carried out by characters in advertising.


Observe if there is a story that is presented in a “traditional” way, that is, with a beginning, a middle and an end; if there are several different, autonomous or parallel scenes, etc., or another way of carrying out the story.

Temporal location

Observe what is the proposal of the time that is carried out, if a complete temporal sequence is presented (one day, for example), if there are fragments of different temporal situations if there are flashbacks (returns to the past), flashforwards (anticipations of the future) or ellipsis (jumps in time). Also, observe if there is a single sequence or several scenes.

Spatial location

Observe what kinds of scenarios appear: family interiors (houses), work (offices or other work environments), public (streets, green spaces, etc.) or others.


Observe if horizontal, vertical or diagonal lines prevail if there is depth montage (two scenes that happen simultaneously but one in the foreground and one in a more distant plane) if there is a divided screen (several scenes that are watch simultaneously from dividing the screen).

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Observe what types of sounds there are, if there is music, what kind of music it is (classical, contemporary, etc.), if they are already known melodies or if they are created for advertising if the music accompanies the images if it precedes or precedes them if it has a greater preponderance than the images or vice versa.

Observe to which public the advertising is directed (children, youth or adults) and what resources are used to appeal to said public:

Type of language of the characters, type of clothing, if there are codes that characterize a specific population, type of camera used: if it is “classic” (front and fixed camera) or if it raises innovations, for example in the angle of focus, in mobility, etc.

After surveying all the advertising elements, analyze the connotation procedures:

  • If a family environment appears, the connotation will be intimacy, union, home place, etc.
  • If a story is presented with a beginning, a development and an end, it refers to the traditional model of narratives in our society. That is, it connotes a typical way of “telling,” a certain traditionality and a greater “seriousness” than other ways of carrying out a story.
  • It is important that the elements that appear in the analysis through each of the slogans can be integrated into a conclusion that aims to link the elements and take them as the basis of an effect of general meaning.

Focus the analysis specifically on the relationship between text and image

What relationship can you find between the two according to the concept of anchoring and the other elements reviewed?

 Modify chosen by changing the texts and the image so that:
• The message changes the recipient
• The message changes its connotations
• The message changes the advertising style.

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