Does Web Advertising Work? Memory for Print vs. Online Media
By Authors: S. Shyam Sundar, S. Narayan, R. Obregon, and C. Uppal
"The ability to see the full ad in printed form remains a strong point of the medium."
Source: Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Winter 1998, 75(4), pgs. 822-35.
Type of Promotional Material/Activity Tested: Print and online advertisements and news story content.
Sample Population: Forty-eight undergraduate students enrolled in communication classes, split into two groups with an equal number of male and female students in each group.
Methodology: Controlled experiment used to measure memory differences for identical content communicated via print and online media. Specifically, the experiment measured and compared recall and recognition of advertising and news story content from the front page of a printed newspaper and a website.
Medium with two values: print and online
Ad content memory
News story memory
Students recognized significantly more of the ad content from the print newspaper than the website.
A difference in recall of news story content was not statistically significant between the two groups of students.
Differences in gender and ethnicity failed to show significant effects on ad content memory.
Font size differences did not explain results for memory of news stories.
Attentional differences did not explain results for ad content memory since both subject groups scored approximately the same for news story memory.
The relative novelty of online advertising compared to print advertising may explain the results for ad content recognition.
Since both media shared the same mode, psychological distinction between print and online advertising may be due to delivery mechanism—readers could see an entire text printed on a page of a newspaper whereas, with the PC, they focused only on the center of a computer screen.
Subjects considered a freely accessible website an inappropriate venue for commercial advertising.
The placements of hyperlinks in online advertising helped to track users clicking on a given advertising.
- Animated ads were more likely to attract and sustain user attention to online advertising.
Take Away: Print ad content was recognized at a higher level than what was delivered online. "An important practical implication of this study is that, in order for web advertising to work, advertisers have to do more to attract readers than they would in the print medium. For example, animated ads as opposed to still ads might be needed to attract online users. " Though Internet advertising was a novelty in 1998, the ability to see the full ad in printed format remains a strong point of the medium. A replication of this work in this decade is worth doing.
Complexity rating of original source: 2 out of 3 (Complex statistical analysis scale: 1= none, 2= moderate, 3 = difficult)
Source: Summary of Does Web Advertising Work? Memory for Print vs. Online Media (freely available full-text of this article is not available)