Attention to Advertising

Sammanfattning: Attention to AdvertisingCarl Patrik Nilsson, Umeå School of Business, Umeå University SE-901 87 Umeå, SwedenAbstractIn advertising, capturing consumers’ attention is imperative. Yet, how attention to advertising works in a World Wide Web context has not been researched extensively. This area is the main focus of this research.The World Wide Web is an interactive medium which has characteristics that deviate from traditional media channels. Considering the unique properties of the World Wide Web it was deemed important to study how attention to advertising is affected by various contexts as well as attention getting techniques.The study was conducted in order to develop an understanding of how advertisements in different Web task environments are being attended to as well as how attention to advertisements varies between different attention getting techniques that are being used in Web advertising. Furthermore, a model which describes the relationship between context, attention getting techniques and attention to advertising was developed and tested. In connection to this it was tested whether click-through or click-rate is indeed an adequate method when measuring advertising effect and thereby to what extent the pay per click pricing strategy is appropriate.In order to address the research issues a theoretical framework was assembled. Nine hypotheses were formulated deriving from the framework. To test the hypotheses and the model, an experimental research design was employed. Three experiments were designed to study the hypotheses formulated. A total of 702 individual experiments were conducted.The conclusions from the study reveal that Web task environments indeed have an impact on attention to advertising. Increased complexity or a more difficult task environment demands more cognitive resources which in turn produces lower attention levels to the advertising stimulus. Reduced complexity, on the other hand, releases cognitive resources that can be spent elsewhere. Thus, a higher attention level to the advertising stimulus was recorded. This also confirmed the properties of the proposed model; namely that the permeability of a filtering mechanism is dependent on for instance level of goal orientation and complexity of the physical task environment i.e. the complexity of the Web site. The study revealed that attention getting techniques such as pop-up advertisements increase the attention to advertising. However, it was found that pop-up advertisements are effective, not mainly because of their abrupt presentation, but because of the distinct properties of the frame. It was found that the frame has a negative meaning for Web users and when the frame comes into the visual field it will attract their attention. At the same time attention will also be distributed towards the advertisement itself. This is recorded as an increase in attention towards the advertising message.The results show that the click-through measure is not an appropriate method when measuring advertising effect. The click-through measure may severely underestimate the advertising effect. Consequently, using click-through frequencies as a basis for pricing is inappropriate, unless the effects at play have been well understood and taken into consideration.Key words: Attention to advertising, attention getting techniques, Web advertising, Web environment, click-throughStudies in Business Administration, B series, No 60.ISSN 0346-8291, ISBN 91-7264-189-4Umeå School of Business - Sweden 2006