In an online advertising context, this empirical study examines the influence of the interface characteristic interactivity on important user perceptions and their intention to use a website. Results indicate that social presence and telepresence are significant predictors of attitude toward online advertisements, satisfaction with online advertisements, and subsequent intentions to use a host website. Also indicated by this study is the significant influence of interactivity, as well as consumer involvement and the interaction between these two variables. The outcomes of this study offer preliminary insight into the conceptualization and affect of interface characteristics, such as interactivity, in online advertising.
Keywords: Interactivity, online advertising, speed, range, mapping, social presence, telepresence
Online advertisement has fundamentally changed how companies spend their marketing dollars. Although investment in traditional marketing media such as print, radio, and TV has increased in recent years(Vanacore 2010), investment in online advertising has also taken a significant piece of this market. In fact, online advertising has been predicted to grow over 12 percent to $61 billion (USD) globally just in 2010 alone (Mitchem 2010). While online media have gained prominence for many advertisers, online advertising differs from the traditional means of dissemination. Past research has shown that online advertising offers a very different set of attributes compared to traditional media (e.g., television, radio, newspaper) (Liu and Shrum 2002; Rayport and Jaworski 2003). The specific differences between online media and others have been (1) the level of control a user has over the environment, (2) the one-to-one interaction that is possible online, and (3) the possibility of two-way communication (Liu and Shrum 2002). The unique characteristics of online media allow users to actively interact with online advertisements differently than in traditional advertising media; as these attributes are varied across different advertising media, the potential user interaction with the advertisement varies.
Similar to other traditional media, online media attempts to overcome the social distance with users, which results from limitations of the media in which it is portrayed. TV, radio, and newspaper, for example, cannot convey actual physical touch or simulate the face-to-face interactions possible in a brick-and-mortar marketplace. However, research has shown that humans react to and perceive interactions with computers similar to those of dealings with humans (e.g., sales representatives) (Nass and Moon 2000). Due to the similarities between face-to-face and virtual communication, website designers have utilized interface characteristics that portray certain social cues (Abdul- Gader and Kozar 1995). Researchers in the area of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) have identified two key constructs that can minimize user perceptions of this social distance in virtual environments: telepresence and social presence. Telepresence refers to a user's perception of physical distance (Steuer 1992), whereas social presence refers to a user's perception of the salience of social connection to another party (Short et al. 1976).
The construct of interactivity has been utilized to study properties of the website design that influence perceptions toward website elements. The extant literature has shown that interactivity is a determinant for both telepresence and social presence (Fortin and Dholakia 2005; Steuer 1992). Organizations frequently lack the understanding of how the online experience can affect consumer perceptions. Research has shown that these types of interface characteristics influence perceptions and attitudes about the virtual environment and advertisements that can influence consumer behavior (Karson and Fisher 2005). Past research has investigated the effect of interactivity on key variables, for example, attitude(Campbell and Wright 2008; Hopkins et al. …