Many streams of research have shown that familiarity influences positive attitudes. Such research streams have driven marketing strategies with the explicit goal of exposing potential customers to repeated stimuli, specifically to advertisements. These marketing strategies have been employed in many contexts, including online. This research paper argues that the online environment, being far richer than traditional means of conveyance, has a different constellation of constructs affecting attitudes. Due to this richness, simply applying the principle of repetition does not make logical sense. Further, this research hopes to extend the traditional view of advertising to the online environment by proposing two additional constructs, other than repetition, that influence attitudes of advertisements. These two factors are personal relevance and interactivity. To explore this idea, two empirical studies are undertaken to test the relationships between interactivity, personal relevance and attitudes. The first is a survey study (N=97), and the second employs a laboratory experiment (N=118). Results support that advertisement interactivity significantly affects attitudes toward the online ads, the website, and the product featured in the advertisement. Personal relevance was also shown to significantly affect attitude toward the ad in both studies.
Keywords: eCommerce, familiarity, interactivity, online advertising, personal relevance
Any typical interaction with a web site, whether it is purchasing a sofa, reading the news, or even returning a web based email, will have a visible and sometimes ostentatious advertisement. No manner how much time, effort, or money is spent on keeping advertisements at bay, they just keep coming because advertisers believe repetition is the key to selling goods and services. What do advertisers and their clients get out of this typical online dissemination strategy? And is repetition the only factor that is important in such a context? Or are there more effective means to advertise online? This research addresses the above questions.
The Theory of Reasoned Action [Ajzen & Fishbein 1980] shows that attitude has a strong relationship with predicting behavior, meaning that understanding the impact of online advertising on a user's attitudes has many implications for consumer behavior [e.g., Fishbein & Middlestadt 1995; Herr 1995; Olson & Zanna 1993]. Attitude formation has also been shown to be influenced by constant repetition of advertising messages [Cacioppo & Petty 1989; Festinger1954; Festinger et al. 1950; Garcia-Marques & Mackie 2001; Kunst-Wilson & Zajonc 1980; Miller 1976; Zajonc 1968]. Marketers have been using repetition with many different forms of media (e.g., radio and television commercials, billboards, magazine ads, and telemarketing). Based on these past successes, marketers have tried to use similar techniques in online advertising. These techniques include pop-up/down ads (commercials), banner ads (billboards), and unsolicited emails (telemarketing).
However, past research has shown that the Internet is a very different medium due to its interactive nature and higher level of control of the media [Liu & Shrum 2002; Rayport & Jaworski 2003]. Also, little is known about how online factors influence Internet users' attitudes toward online advertising. Yet marketers repeatedly expose Internet users with the same techniques. In this paper, we investigate both the influence advertisement interactivity and personal relevance has on a user's' attitudes. These two factors are intuitively important to understand in the context of online advertising because both are directly related to the differences that have been found between online advertising compared to offline. These specific differences are the level of control a user has over the environment and the one-to-one interaction that is possible online [Liu & Shrum 2002]. …