Academic journal article International Journal of Electronic Commerce Studies

Role of Conventional Ads in a Digital Age: Effects of Internet and Conventional Advertising on Brand Awareness and Brand Desire in China

Academic journal article International Journal of Electronic Commerce Studies

Role of Conventional Ads in a Digital Age: Effects of Internet and Conventional Advertising on Brand Awareness and Brand Desire in China

Article excerpt


In our increasingly digital era, Internet advertising efforts continue to expand with a strong ability to efficiently target, behaviorally profile, and interactively engage consumers. This trend is a challenge to conventional advertising efforts and calls into question what roles they may continue to play. This study delineates that in the digital era, Internet and conventional advertising efforts have differentiating functions in shaping consumer brand perceptions. Collating data from two independent sources, we examined 195 leading consumer brands across 23 product categories in China in 2011 to verify our key postulates. The findings confirmed the salience of both Internet and conventional advertising efforts on generating brand awareness, and uncovered the unique role of conventional advertising efforts in directly creating brand desire. Furthermore, the effect of conventional advertising efforts on brand desire is contingent on the nature of whether the consumer brands are hedonic or utilitarian.

Keywords: Internet Advertising, Conventional Advertising, Brand Awareness, Brand Desire, Consumer Product Brands in China


The explosive success of new media (via the Internet) as an advertising medium is forcing firms to rethink how they can better connect to and interact with their consumers. While some brand managers view the Internet as a reflective platform for sourcing consumer insights1, 2, others regard it as a cost-efficient advertising medium3, 4. In China, evidence indicates that some brand managers take a bolder approach towards the new media and use it to structurally revise their communication mix5. Through successful campaigns, these brands have established themselves as new media leaders. They have attracted intense interest among marketing professionals and turned Internet advertising into one of the most dynamic marketing topics. Indeed, Millward Brown's 2010 survey reports that 96% of members in the World Federation of Advertisers increased their efforts in social media. Yet among them, 50% are uncertain about the return on investments and only a few firms have clearly defined their new media strategies6. Most firms hold eager yet uncertain attitudes because the role of the Internet versus conventional media remains unclear. Our study attempts to fill this research gap by investigating how Internet and conventional advertising efforts affect consumer brand awareness and desire. We developed and empirically tested a model that assesses their differential effects. In addition, we also examined how product nature, that is, whether the brand is designed for hedonic or utilitarian functions, may affect the advertising effect on brand desire.


One of the major goals of advertising, Internet and conventional alike, is to generate and maintain brand awareness. In this study, brand awareness is defined as consumers' unaided first-mention brand recall within each product category7. Previous literature supports that both Internet and conventional advertising efforts contribute to brand awareness and increase the probability that the brand is included in the consumer's evoked set8, 9.

Emerging literature on new media establishes that Internet advertising is salient in affecting brand awareness3, 4. First, Internet advertising content can be highly relevant to consumers. Using sophisticated data sourcing and analytical tools, consumer sentiments and behaviors posted on various web platforms (from web communities to social media) are made available to firms that can design advertisements to ride on the "right here, right now" needs of consumers. Furthermore, through in-house customer databases and profiling systems, firms can sub-segment their existing customer groups and design advertisements and promotions that correspond to their consumption patterns. Second, firms can create brand awareness by creating buzz online. Through viral messages and advertisements, Internet advertising can expand brand awareness by engaging consumers and creating positive word-of-mouth10, 11. …

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