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Syracuse University Libraries

Advertising Resources

A Syracuse University Libraries' research starting points guide for advertising research

Research Process Considerations - ADV 208 - Spring 2022


  • Brand reputation, duration of a brand's time in the marketplace and the like - will determine the extent of published source material available about a given brand and its company.
  • ADV 208 students are not required to consult databases and other starting points in the exact order listed below, but this step by step framework is one way to conceptualize exploration spanning some of the major databases.
  • Teams tackling an assignment sometimes apply a division of labor (splitting up databases to explore). Pros and cons exist to dividing that up versus all team members collaborating on simultaneous shared exploration
  • Most of these tools can assist on advertising research across multiple Newhouse courses that involve a research component
  • Familiarity with some licensed databases (e.g., Simmons particularly) is also a resume worthy competency
  • The specific licensed databases valuable in advertising research are often a mix and intersection of databases relevant to advertising, business, and communication [links go out to 100% of the databases the library offers, but this guide and its subpages present more concise librarian recommendations]. 
  • For most positive outcomes in ADV 208 it would not usually be required - for instance - to extensively search 20 or 30 databases, but most results are better when exploring more than only 2 or 3

The research process steps below are not required to be carried out in strictly linear fashion.  For some research purposes, databases not recommended across these step may be needed.  For most ADV 208 students or research teams however, these are steps useful for the majority of situations most commonly encountered in the course.  Extent and relevance of source material will vary widely depending on the brand, product category and/or company one is researching

Newhouse Librarian's Suggested Research Process Steps

Key tools for exploring background information about your company include Summon and databases helpful for researching companies such as:


Marketline has tended to be good at including industry research not limited to a United States context.  Many of the companies profiled in Marketline also include SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats) analysis for those companies.  Privco requires set up of a free account, in addition to SU NETID login; Business Market Research Collection includes access to private company information from Hoover’s Company Profiles and industry profiles from “Barnes Reports,” “First Research,” etc.


Search brand and company names in large multidisciplinary and multi-content type databases/search engines, like Summon, Google and/or Google Scholar.  Also harvest what is to be learned from a company’s primary website (drilling down and away from general consumer product information and into subpages of a company website that are "about" the company itself, often appearing under links for "company" information or under "about" or under information for "investors," etc.  Also review relevant Wikipedia overviews for your company and brand but do not limit your exploration only to those starting points


  • Sort Summon results chronologically if desired
  • Is the company name you are exploring the same as the brand name?
  • Is the company based inside or outside of the United States?
  • Is the company or brand a subsidiary within a larger corporate hierarchy (aka: family tree), in other words, existing underneath another larger parent company (is that ultimate parent company public or private)?
  • Employ additional strategies to narrow down what you review if the volume of results are too many or too random
  • For instance, consider using the “advanced” search screen for Summon and entering the brand name or company name as a “subject terms” search and not a more general all fields (aka - keyword anywhere) search
  • Use of the "subject" search field(s) in Summon and other databases helps bring back sources "about" that organization or topic and not simply random, passing mentions of those search terms
  • Perhaps limit results to items published only during the past five years - unless doing a more complete history, then look back to older time periods
  • Are there other company histories available to you via a) your company's website, b) on Wikipedia, c) under links to company histories in the company database called Business Insights Essentials, or some company entries in the Mergent Intellect database also provide company histories (availability will vary widely depending on one's brand and/or company, or d) perhaps histories in the form of books or book chapters if one is dealing with a very well known and long standing brand name
  • When using Summon to review full chronologies of search results, or article databases to do the same thing, experiment with changing sort order of results from sorting by relevance to newest first vs. oldest first.  Or sample sources from specified time periods of interest
  • Try adding other Summon refinement filters to your results, such as specifying  a desired “content type,” like book/ebook, book chapter, trade publication (aka: trade journal), or journal article or magazine article
  • A Summon result refinement called “area of study” is also helpful, where ADV 208 students can pick categories like “business” and/or “journalism and communications”
  • Another set of Summon result refinements called “subject” include categories ADV 208 student can apply, like “advertising,” “marketing,” and many other categories of possible interest
  • Search results also of course can be narrowed by adding additional specific words or phrases of interest to an advanced search (e.g., enclose phrases in quotation marks - e.g., Nikon AND "market share")
  • Some students and teams will have brands or companies presenting an opposite problem of not enough source material appearing on search result lists
  • In those instances, in addition to trying searches in Summon and multiple databases for one’s brand name and company name, also try to search the name(s) of a competitor(s) OR the name(s) of the general product category associated with a brand (e.g., “coolers” when researching “Yeti” or “digital cameras” or "imaging" when researching “Nikon,” etc.)
  • Is one's brand connected to one or a few main product categories or a great variety of different product categories?
  • Investigate to what extent WARC database (World Advertising Research Center) contains written advertising case studies on your brand/company, or on competitors, or covering your general product category.
  • The triple line, hamburger menu at extreme upper right corner of WARC - under the link to "case studies" - offers a very powerful "case finder" tool - that can be used to narrow down cases one is looking at according to a specific advertising campaign objective, type of media channel, desired target audience, or many other factors. 
  • Content in WARC can be searched using keywords - for a brand name or product category name, but also using this "case finder" tool
  • Some (but far from all) ADV 208 students may also locate useful general business cases studies of interest (sometimes dealing with advertising, but not limited to that) in the database called SAGE BUSINESS CASES
  • Explore articles from databases such as ABI/INFORM and/or BUSINESS SOURCE ELITE and/or COMMUNICATION SOURCE.
  • Employ similar search result refinement strategies to those described for use of SUMMON, under step #1 for company background research
  •  ABI/Inform, the business article subpart of the larger ProQuest database, has advanced search fields for company names, subjects of your research or even searches by industry code - e.g., NAICS [if you have that number and your specific code classification is not too disparate for the types of sub-industries and companies it contains; this varies widely and NAICS is a classification for broad industries, but not every narrow product category in the marketplace]
  • While it is a small collection and the volume of results varies from a quite high volume to virtually nothing depending on a brand being explored, see if ADFORUM database covers your brand, or related product categories
  • For any ADV 208 student or team locating a high volume of ADFORUM advertising examples, results can be filtered by country as well
  • See also the “Advertising Examples” subpage of this SU Libraries Advertising Research Guide
  • Among other possibilities on that subpage, is a small collection of fully page imaged online magazines
  •  Advanced searches in the full ProQuest database, include document type result refinements that include the category “advertisement,” which for some (not all) brands - will bring back examples of advertising that appear in major U.S. newspapers (if applicable), some titles here with coverage dating back to the 19th Century
  • See the Simmons Insights subpage of this SU Libraries Advertising Research Guide for more in-depth user guidance (including user guides and long and short "how to" videos from publisher, MRI-Simmons)
  • Consider the Adult study survey data available in Simmons for building data cross tabulations (and for some brands, like "Lego," possibly survey data Simmons does for “kids” and/or “teens").
  • Valuable and user friendly options here in addition to building one’s own cross-tabulations, include demographic information on a target brand available under the feature called Quick Reports.
  • Another compelling series of data visualizations all in ADV 208 should consult appears under the feature in Simmons Insights called “Brand Catalyst.”
  • If one’s specific brand is not in Simmons Insights, try a relevant product category name, or name of a competitor’ s brand
  • As of Spring 2022 - ADV 208 students should take note that Simmons definitely covers Volkswagen, Nikon and Pepperidge Farm
  • Yeti is not included by name, however, data is available in Simmons Insights for cross-tabulation, quick reports and/or brand catalyst visualizations - if one uses the search term, “coolers”
  • Lego is not per se included in Simmons Insights under that name either, but for purposes of building cross-tabulations, quick reports or brand catalyst data visualizations, there is data here for a category called “building sets (such as lego).” Simmons has also asked survey questions regarding visitors to Legoland theme park as well as about those consumers who visit the website
  • Try search queries on one’s brand/company name and/or product category and/or competitor categories or names - in numerically oriented databases like STATISTA and/or eMarketer
  • Yeti, and/or those sorts of coolers represented by that brand or its competitors, do not appear to bring back data tables in Statista (although Statista would have data on consumption of beverage types one might place into a cooler).
  • Other brands ADV 208 students are working on during Spring 2022 will find some data in Statista, varying a lot by brand [Volkswagen having the largest quantity of data there]
  • eMarketer helpfulness also varies tremendously by brand, with a lot of Volkswagen data contained there, but then Lego has very few data tables or reports, and Yeti--only one mention in passing in a report on holiday shopping 2021
  • Pepperidge Farm and Nikon do not appear to have relevant data in eMarketer, unless one seeks data on some other topic one thinks is relevant
  • Keep in mind that either Statista and/or eMarketer, even if not filled with data about a brand, may still be useful if one seeks related data (e.g., statistical data regarding a specific type of media channel, or social media platform one intends to use as part of an advertising campaign)
  • Both Statista and eMarketer also contain a lot of data about the advertising industry as a whole, with an ability in Statista to refine those data tables and reports on advertising according to a specific broad industry of interest
  • For the brands ADV 208 students are covering in Spring 2022, results here are quite mixed.
  • In Mintel for instance, Volkswagen has a lot of industry news and related insights reports here, although none of Mintel's full in-depth market research reports. Those in ADV 208 focusing on that brand also can browse all relevant reports in Mintel under the category labeled “automotive”
  • Pepperidge Farm has a few news reports here, and those focusing on that brand likely will want to browse reports under the “food” category classified as reports and news about, “snacks and confectionary”
  • Lego has a few news reports here and those working on that probably will want to pull up a full report Mintel did in May of 2020 entitled “Traditional Toys and Games”
  • Nikon has a few dozen news reports in Mintel, though Mintel’s coverage of digital cameras or photography is not especially recent (in part this may be due to the convergence of consumer image capture with smartphones/cell phones, and Nikon's focus on commercial imaging technology would seem to be more of a business to business focus than it is a consumer product retail focus). Mintel created a report in 2013 entitled “The Photography Consumer,” and though somewhat dated now, that would be their more recent full market research report on digital cameras, strictly defined
  • Yeti and beverage coolers are seeming a bit narrow for the larger industry databases like Mintel or IBIS although - again - one might decide to look at a recent Mintel report on a beverage category linked to use of coolers (optional)
  • For those who do have useful full Mintel Reports relevant to their brand or product category, in addition to the market and consumer analysis in general, be sure to look across subpages of spreadsheets connected to full Mintel reports that are called the “databook.” Mintel databooks offer insight into consumer preferences in some ways not unlike Simmons Insights data cross-tabulations (e.g., comparing a brand to specific consumer demographic categories)
  • This research process overview in these seven steps does not highlight use of each and every database included on the full version of the SU Libraries research guide for advertising (and certainly not all of the 700+ databases available at SU).
  • For example, of lesser likely immediate importance in ADV 208 (depends on one's research objective) might be the sets of media directories in SRDS media solutions or any number of additional business databases, or scholarly databases if seeking academic research
  • The seven steps here also do not emphasize harvesting of company/client specific advertising spending data (e.g., what companies or ad agency clients are spending to place ads) - but that can be done using databases like Adspender* (not available at the moment at SU) or Advertising Age DataCenter.  Access to the latter involves an additional email address and password one uses when clicking into that database, that is in addition to one's SU NETID/NETID password
  • Advertising Age DataCenter has data reports tending to cover the advertising industry as a whole, not an array of every possible brand.
  • Adspender, when otherwise available at SU, is compelling for some purposes (e.g., determining dollar totals Volkswagen or Pepperidge Farm spent on television advertising or newspaper or magazine ads or online ads, etc. or possibly even dollar totals spent to advertise a movie/feature film (such as the “Lego Movie” or “Lego Batman.”).
  • At times ad spending data like that is mentioned in trade publication articles located using databases such as ABI/Inform or Business Source Elite.
  • Statista and eMarketer contain some ad spending statistical data as well, but mostly at times that may be industry specific for some industries covered by those data aggregators, but is not in most cases, highly brand name specific (unless dealing with a very iconic brand)
  • Publicly traded companies in the U.S. face a variety of required regulations for release of the financial data for those companies.  However, that is data about the company as whole.  They are not required to break out - 'for the public" attribution of their revenue to specific brand name product lines (unless a company essentially is equivalent to its brand).  Coca-Cola's annual financial statements required for filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission do not have to tell regulators or the world, the slice of their profits, or the cost of advertising campaigns, specific only to Coke Zero for example.  Annual reports to shareholders and investors, as well as articles in trade publications/trade journals, sometimes have data of that kind
  • Additional caveats about Adspender is that platform has been down (out of service) on the eve of the ADV 208 Spring semester library orientation, and its publisher Kantar Media is going to be stepping away from an access model that integrates well with university students and faculty access to that content (via our SU NETIDs).
  • Accordingly, there is a higher level of uncertainly about whether Adspender will be a database immediately available at SU as we move into future week and months.
  • For any ADV 208 students interested in academic articles (and sometimes popular or trade magazines) in the field of psychology that explore advertising, maybe even at times - academic studies of a product category or type of media or media channel important to you, other (optional) databases to consider, in the field of psychology, appear on the subpage of this research guide for "Psychology of Advertising."


Do not hesitate to reach out to Newhouse School Librarian, Michael Pasqualoni - || (315) 443-3715 if you hit inescapable roadblocks in your research process for ADV 208, or if you are struggling with  navigation within a specific database or use of Summon and related narrowing or broadening out of search results.  Consultations with individuals or teams are available.  These are usually most effective if you have done a fair amount of research first and arrived at a mixture of successes alongside gaps or obstacles

ADV 208 - Big Idea In Advertising [SU Libraries Orientation Pre-Session Starting Points Assessment]

Database Selection Exercises

Refer to SU Libraries website &  especially
the Libraries’ research guide for ADVERTISING
*note-some replies may require reviewing descriptions on subpages of this guide. 

  1. You are investigating the background for a well-known company and wider industry category associated with that firm.  What search tool provided by SU Libraries will you employ to locate books addressing those subjects?
Books and Book Chapters
Information Desk at Bird Library: 1 votes (3.45%)
Summon (SU Libraries Search Engine): 25 votes (86.21%)
Facebook: 0 votes (0%)
Simmons Insights: 3 votes (10.34%)
Total Votes: 29
  1. You want to explore written case studies describing excellent campaigns in advertising.  Which database will you use?
Written Advertising Case Studies
Adforum: 1 votes (4%)
WARC: 19 votes (76%)
Simmons Insights: 4 votes (16%)
Mintel: 1 votes (4%)
Total Votes: 25
  1. A colleague has directed you to three specific back issue articles in the trade journal called Adweek, and given you exact publication dates.  What search tool on the SU Libraries website shall you use to navigate to back issues of the trade journal, Adweek?
Current and Back Issue Articles from Adweek Magazine
Simmons Insights: 0 votes (0%)
Mintel: 0 votes (0%)
The Library website's link to "Databases": 6 votes (26.09%)
The Library website's link to "Journals": 16 votes (69.57%)
The Library's research guide for "advertising": 1 votes (4.35%)
Total Votes: 23
  1. Considering the set of ‘best bet databases’ suggested on the advertising research guide, you want more information about U.S. consumers of differing household income level demographics who are recent purchasers of Chapstick.  You specifically seek data on which types of TV shows and magazine titles capture such consumer demographics in their audience or readership.  Which database will you use?
Consumer Survey Data
Adforum: 2 votes (7.41%)
Adspender: 1 votes (3.7%)
Privco: 1 votes (3.7%)
Simmons Insights: 11 votes (40.74%)
Both Adspender and Simmons Insights: 2 votes (7.41%)
All three of Adforum, Adspender and Simmons Insights: 10 votes (37.04%)
Total Votes: 27
  1. You need recent digital market research data about social media users in Asian countries, showing specific percentages of mobile phone users within those countries, and ideally, which Asian country is home to the greatest number of Twitter users. Which database will you use?
Social Media Market Research Data
Summon (SU Libraries search engine): 1 votes (4.17%)
eMarketer: 19 votes (79.17%)
Adspender: 2 votes (8.33%)
WARC: 2 votes (8.33%)
Total Votes: 24