World Wide Web, also known as "the Web" is defined as 'userfriendly graphics-capable component of the Internet' (Pugsley and Trites, 2003) and as a cross between an electronic trade show and a community flea market (Berthan et al., 1996). The Web is flexible in that it can present information in numerous ways including text, images, video, and sound. The multimedia aspect of the Web could make the experience more fun and stimulating, thus holding the attention of the online consumer longer (Ghose and Dou, 1998). The Web has been able to reach more people, widely recognized and accessible in most parts of the world, and supports information in different languages and currencies. The Web has been used to disperse information to many consumers and more and more businesses are trying to incorporate the Web into their operations (Alba et al., 1997). Businesses have realized the potential benefits of the Web in direct sales, building brand awareness and providing market information for consumers. Businesses see the Web as an opportunity to channel their advertising, marketing and distribution of some of their products (Verity and Hof, 1994). In Web-based channel, the businesses can cut advertising cost compared to any conventional channels such as television, radio and magazines.
The marketplace is changing and it has been shifting towards online shopping, and virtual market businesses. Due to the changes in the environmental trend, the online businesses have to focus more on web-based advertisements. The marketers like to draw the online consumer's attention from thousands of other products or brands. Consumers have control over web-based advertisements, on what ads, when, where, and how long they would like to see them (Gallagher et al., 2001). Also, consumers can arrange advertisements to their liking and to their preferred scheduling. The consumers can close out advertisements they do not want to see or go back to the ads they would be interested in. This gives consumers numerous opportunities to view the web-based advertisement. It has been said that after a number of exposures to advertisements, the consumer would retain the information more (Vakratas and Ambler, 1999).
One of the primary goals of marketing is to segment the consumers and try to target the products/services to their specific needs. Among the market segmentation variables, gender has had a deep history in the marketing environment. Gender has been used as a segmentation variable, because it is a group that meets all the circumstances: easily identifiable, accessible information and the segments are large enough to generate more profit (Meyers-Levy and Sternthal, 1991). Though gender has been identified as important segmentation variable, there has been a lack of research focusing on online consumer characteristics in banner ad information processing and advertising effectiveness in the Web context. This paper examines whether gender difference is a factor in the relationships between online consumer characteristics and banner advertisement effectiveness.
Online consumer characteristics play an important role in designing a banner ad; and online consumer interaction with product information is one of the critical components in B2C e-commerce environment (Bayan, 2001). The characteristics of an online consumer were considered in preexperience, and experience phases of viewing a banner-ad. Prior to the viewing an advertisement, the consumer may have some predictions towards it. Accordingly, in pre-experience phase, the consumer's internal flexibility and expectations from the banner ads were considered as characteristic in the viewing (experiencing) phase of the advertisement. The consumer involvement was also considered as a characteristic.
WEB-BASED BANNER ADVERTISEMENT EFFECTIVENESS
Banner ads. appear when viewing web pages, usually placed at the top or along the sides of the Web page (Edwards et al., 2002) or a search engine's page (Sipe, 2003). …