This volume contains edited versions of papers that were presented at the 2001 Advertising and Consumer Psychology Conference in Seattle, Washington. This annual conference was sponsored by the Society for Consumer Psychology (Division 23 of the American Psychological Association) with sponsorship assistance from Accenture Institute for Strategic Change.
The conference and this book follow from the 1996 Advertising and Consumer Psychology Conference and subsequent publication, Advertising and the World Wide Web (Schumann & Thorson, 1999). This book contains definitions of Internet terms, historical presentations, discussions of theoretical foundations, the structure of Web advertising, public policy issues, and applications of the medium.
This important volume served to better acquaint advertisers with the medium and the important research questions at that time. The authors challenged researchers to think about the potential advantages and disadvantages of the Web as an advertising medium. Specifically, the authors mentioned the need for greater use of theory as well as studies that take advantage of the unique situations created by the Internet.
The present volume addresses many of these issues and goes beyond the topic of advertising and the Web to include topics such as customization, site design, word-of-mouth processes, and the study of consumer decision making while online. Some of the research methods employed by authors in the current chapters allow us to gain more insight into the consumer’s thought processes while online.
Many of the chapters move beyond research that is descriptive of consumer activities. The theories and research methods employed by the present authors help provide greater insight into the processes underlying consumer behavior in online environments.
The book begins with a section on Community. One advantage of the Internet is the ability to bring like-minded individuals from around the world into one forum. Alon, Brunei, and Sicgal examine the way in which ritual activities maintain and develop the culture of the community forum. Schindler and Bickart examine published word-of-mouth comments to determine the way in which product experiences and information are communicated from consumer to consumer within a community.
People who pass-along emails to others are examined by Lewis, Phelps, Mobilio, and Raman; these authors provide some insight into the issue of viral marketing on the Internet. This section concludes with Boush and Kahle’s discussion and research agenda for using online consumer discussion communities to understand products, companies, and brands.
The second section in the book examines issues related to Advertising. The first two chapters in this section examine the issue of click-through rates, albeit from different perspectives. Chandon and Chtourou examine factors that affect the rate at which individuals will click on a banner ad. Mitchell and Valenzuela consider the banner ads that arc not clicked—and reason that even without a click through, banner ads will still influence consumer judgment and choice.
The other two chapters in this section examine advertising content that is placed in a different content first within the context of gaming online (Nelson’s article on Advcrgaming) and next within the context of wireless networks (Lynch, Kent, and Srinivasan’s chapter on mobile advertising).
Customization is the third section. Crow and Shanteau’s chapter provides us with reasons why consumers customize products and the benefits of customization. Godek and Yates look at the role of customer perceptions of control in the person-alization/customization process. Luna, Pcrrachio, and de Juan Vigaray examine Web site customization and the importance of adapting the site across cultures. Finally, H&ubl and Murry examine electronic recommendation agents as one form of preference customization and construction.
The psychological effects of Site Design are considered next. Omanson, Cline, and Nordhielm’s chapter demonstrates that visual consistency in the look and feel of Web sites will affect, among other things, brand attitudes of visitors to that site. Purinton and Rosen examine gender differences in processing Web site information and present both similarities and differences by gender.
Finally, Fasolo, McClelland, and Lange examine the way in which the format that product decision sites use to present information to site visitors can affect the visitor’s ability to make better decisions.
The Fasolo, McClelland, and Lange chapter overlaps with the next section— Decision Making. Henry begins by asking the question of whether the Internet empowers consumers to make better decisions? Similarly. Mishra and Olshavsky consider whether the increased availability of information technology (personal computers, the Internet, cellular technology) will allow consumers to make more rational decisions and examine how new technology affects the consumer decision making process.
The chapters that follow become more specific in nature. For example, Park, Lee, and Lee examine decision making within the context of e-branding strategy. Levin, Levin, and Heath examine the advantages and disadvantages of online and offline shopping and discuss situations when strategic alliances between online and offline brands will benefit consumers. This section concludes with chapters that examine decision making in online auctions (Sivadas, Stern, Mehta, and Jones) and using the Internet to make better health care decisions (Brewer).
The book concludes with a discussion of Research Tools and Approaches that can be used online. This final section contains a discussion of the use of the virtual experience environment as a research tool (Daugherty, Li, and Biocca). Using the Web to create an online, interactive research space is proposed as a way to provide benefits throughout the research process (Englis, Solomon, and Harveston).
Clearly, there is much to learn when applying principles of consumer psychology to the online environment. We thank the chapter authors for their creative contributions to this book.