Academic journal article Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline

When Less Is More: Empirical Study of the Relation between Consumer Behavior and Information Provision on Commercial Landing Pages

Academic journal article Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline

When Less Is More: Empirical Study of the Relation between Consumer Behavior and Information Provision on Commercial Landing Pages

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

Provision of information is a central construct in the IS discipline (Delone & McLean, 2003; Mishra, Stein, & Burton-Jones, 2017). It is considered an important determinant of consumer behavior when using technology (Smith, 2017; Venkatesh, Thong, & Xu, 2012). The complexity of informing users is of great interest in IS research, given that it is the linchpin through which systems have their effects (Burton-Jones & Gallivan, 2007; Cohen, 1999; Mishra et al., 2017). This interest is also motivated by the growing proliferation and use of information and communications technologies (ICT) (Horrigan, 2017). For example, 93% of adults in the U.S. report consuming information online, either via a mobile device or a computer (Smith, 2017). In the context of digital marketing and e-commerce, 79% of American adults reported ever making commercial transactions over computermediated networks (such as online purchases), spending nearly $350 billion annually ("Carat Ad Spend Report," 2016; Smith & Anderson, 2016).

A pertinent debate among scholars and practitioners relates to the amount of information: does more information elicit engagement and compliance, or the other way around? This paper empirically addresses this long-standing question by observing if the amount of provided information influences users' willingness to disclose personal data on a commercial landing page--a stand-alone web page created specifically for a marketing or advertising campaign (Becker, Broder, Gabrilovich, Josifovski, & Pang, 2009; Unbounce, 2016). The action performed by the user is called "conversion" or "compliance". Since landing pages are typically users' first impression of a web page, decisions are greatly based on the content being presented (Ash, Page, & Ginty, 2012; Becker et al., 2009; Lindgaard, Fernandes, Dudek, & Brown, 2006; Reinecke et al., 2013).

In this study, information provision is operationalized by digital content amount. Digital content is defined as the textual or visual information made available by a website or other electronic medium (Gates, 1996; Huizingh, 2000; Rowley, 2008). In marketing and online commerce, digital content and digital information are often synonymous terms (Rowley, 2008).

The decision-making processes that make users comply online--disclose personal information or make a purchase--have been extensively researched in various domains. However, with regards to content, there is still a conceptual confusion resulting from competing models and theoretical underpinnings: on the one hand, research shows that more content eliminates uncertainty and reduces risk, therefore increasing trust (Cialdini, 2009; Fogg et al., 2002; Gefen, 2000; Lee & Turban, 2001; Li & Chatterjee, 2010; Luhmann, 2000). On the other hand, less content was suggested to reduce complexity and decrease effort, therefore increasing ease of use (Geissler, Zinkhan, & Watson, 2006; Kahneman, 1973; Norton, Frost, & Ariely, 2007; Song & Schwarz, 2010; Vishwanath, 2004). As a result, the impact of the content amount is still an unsolved question.

This study uses the transdiscipline of Informing Science (Cohen, 2009) to address this research question. First, an extensive literature review was conducted to explore how best to inform clients using information technology and identify factors of effective information provision. Following, A between-group design and A/B testing were utilized in a series of large-scale online experiments (n= 535 and n= 27,083). An A/B design is a two-part or phase design composed of a baseline ("A" phase) with no changes, and treatment or intervention ("B" phase). Two variants of landing pages, long and short, were created. Both variants had an identical form to collect users' information (e-mail address), but different amounts of provided content. User traffic to the pages was generated through online advertising, randomized between the variants and monitored to observe the difference in behavioral outcomes (conversions). …

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