Frustration and Consumer Evaluation of Search Advertising and Search Engine Effectiveness: The Case of Hedonic versus Utilitarian Product

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of frustration in online search endeavors. The research applies precepts from frustration theory to investigate the nature of search goals for hedonic vs. utilitarian product and the moderating influence of encountered frustration during online searches on attitude toward keyword search advertising (A^sub Ad^), attitude toward searched brand (A^sub brand^), purchase intention (PI), and attitude toward search engine effectiveness. An experiment with a pretest was conducted. The results of the pretest suggest that hedonic product searches associate with the goal of finding relevant search results, while utilitarian product searches relate to time saving. The findings of the experiment indicate that the influence of hedonic vs. utilitarian search on A^sub Ad^ and search engine effectiveness is moderated by the level of frustration. The present research contributes to the substantive and conceptual domains of frustration theory, Internet search advertisements, search engine effectiveness, and electronic commerce.

Keywords: frustration, flow theory, keyword search advertising, attitude toward search ad, search engine effectiveness

1. Introduction

Due to the increasing popularity of search engine and its special appeal for small to medium firms with niche markets, businesses and advertisers start to use search advertising to promote their products or services. According to Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO), advertisers in North America spent about $13.5 billion dollars on search engine marketing (SEM) in 2008 and the Northern American SEM expenditure will reach $26 billion dollars by 2013. The two top objectives of paid placement programs among advertisers are to increase brand awareness and to sell products, services, and contents directly online [SEMPO 2008]. In addition, over 50% of Internet browsers use a search engine every few days and search engines generate more traffic to commercial sites with product and price information than other online search methods [Sen et al. 2006, Feng et al. 2007]. Because of search advertising's potential for greater return on investment relative to other forms of advertising [Burns 2005] as well as its increasing market share in online advertising, there is a great need to have a clearer understanding of search engine effectiveness [ Marketing Week 2008, Chen et al. 2009].

Consumers expect to find relevant information when they use search engines, and they hardly go beyond the top 30 listings for a single keyword search [Sen 2005, Sen et al. 2011]. Although search engines intend to match the consumers' search with the online sellers' offerings, there are concerns about the negative impact of a poor match between expectations and the output list of the search engine [Su 2008]. It is even frustrating for many Internet surfers to search the web due to the potential confusion or inaccuracy caused by the heterogeneous commerce related terms [Spink & Jansen 2008]. Therefore, it is critical to the online sellers to evaluate the effectiveness of search engines and develop search engine marketing strategies to improve the possibility of match between their offerings and the expectations of consumers, as well as to promote targeted access to their commercial websites [Sen 2005, Spink & Jansen 2008, Su 2008]. In addition, search engines as a transformation agent influence the business environment in a tremendous way, and it is important to better understand their effectiveness in the cause of changes [Rangaswamy et al. 2009].

Furthermore, flow theory has been extensively utilized to examine the positive online search experience and relevant attitudinal and behavioral constructs [Korzaan 2003, Mathwick & Rigdon 2004, Hoffman & Novak 2009]. Although negative emotions incurred during the online keyword search could have a critical influence on attitude toward the product and website, as well as attitude toward sponsored links, little research to date has been conducted to investigate how web searchers handle encountered frustrations [Campbell & Wright 2008, Lin & Hung 2009]. …