DAGMAR: Definition in Marketing, 4 Key Steps, and How It's Used


DAGMAR (defining advertising goals for measured advertising results) is a marketing model used to establish clear objectives for an advertising campaign and measure its success. The DAGMAR model was introduced by Russell Colley in a 1961 report to the Association of National Advertisers and was expanded upon in 1995 by Solomon Dutka.

Key Takeaways

  • The DAGMAR model defines the four steps of an effective advertising campaign as causing awareness, comprehension, conviction, and action.
  • The model stresses defining the segment of the market that the campaign seeks to reach.
  • DAGMAR also requires an evaluation of the campaign's success against a pre-set benchmark.

Understanding DAGMAR

The DAGMAR approach advocates a marketing strategy that guides the consumer through four phases: awareness, comprehension, conviction, and action. That path has become known by its acronym as the ACCA formula. The four steps of the campaign are as follows:

  • Generating awareness of the brand among consumers
  • Increasing comprehension of the product and its benefits
  • Convincing consumers that they need the product
  • Persuading consumers to buy it

The DAGMAR method contains two goals. The first is to develop a communication task that accomplishes those specific ACCA steps. The second is to make sure that the success of those goals can be measured against a baseline.

Colley believed that effective advertising seeks to communicate rather than sell. He specified four basic requirements for evaluating the effectiveness of an advertising campaign: 

  • Be concrete and measurable
  • Define the target audience or market
  • Identify the benchmark and the degree of change expected
  • Specify a period during which to accomplish the objective

Identifying a Target Market to Implement DAGMAR

The target market is the subset of consumers who have the highest likelihood of purchasing the product. The target market may be narrow or broad. It may be women in general or young professional single women who live in urban areas.

Identification of a target market can include demographic, geographic, and psychographic segmentation. Target markets can be separated into primary and secondary groups. Primary markets are the initial focus of a campaign and, hopefully, the first customers to buy and use the new product. Secondary markets are the larger population that may buy the product once the brand becomes established.

After identifying the target market, the company establishes the message it wants to communicate in its advertising campaign.

DAGMAR Benchmark and Time Frame

The DAGMAR method requires marketers to establish a benchmark in order to measure the success of a campaign. Today's businesses rarely set out to sell a product to everybody. They aim for a particular share of a market or a substantial share of a market segment.

The cosmetics industry offers a clear example. There are mass-market products available in drugstores, and high-end products, some made by the same companies, that are sold only in department stores. There are products that are branded, packaged, and promoted only for teenagers, and others for mature women.

A company introducing a new product aims at one or more of these market segments, but not all of them at once. In any case, setting a benchmark for product success helps advertisers define the market and create an effective campaign to reach it.

The time frame attempts to set a reasonable deadline for judging the success or failure of a new product's introduction.