Yahoo!: Consumer Direct Marries Purchase Metrics to Banner Ads

Describe the research design for Consumer Direct

The purpose of the research conducted was to determine the effectiveness of the banner ads and other rich media advertisements dispersed on the internet to the increasing customer base online.

The research design for the Consumer Direct and Yahoo collaboration as indicated in the case is one primarily based on attaining consumer responses through data collection techniques from a sample of the consumer population. The population that was targeted with the test contained 2000 households on an approximate basis. The particular research design for the Consumer Direct involved experiment based data collection on targeted groups/ panels of respondents who were showed banner ads to determine the effectiveness of these advertisements. The advertisements that were shown to the respondents were of two kinds, the standard internet based banner advertisements as well as the newer ‘rich media’ advertisements. The respondents visited the Yahoo sites and were exposed to tracked CPG advertisements on the internet. The household size and the prior purchase behavior of the respondents were recorded.

Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the research design

The strength of research design lies in the long term data collection involved and the use of two groups to compare test results. The research involves collection of data over a 8 weeks where the participants were exposed to ad campaigns which was followed by absence of exposure for 6 weeks. Aside from this historical purchase behavior for the last 52 weeks was also gathered for the participants. The time duration of the data collection period allowed for extensive collection of data which can lead towards complete and comprehensive results and revelation of long term trends as well. The use of two groups, like the control group and the test group on which the exposure of ads was tested allowed for comparison of the two groups which can reveal the variance between the two groups. The weakness of the research design lies in the use of pop up menus for inviting the participants into the survey which can be seen as a nuisance as well as an unethical approach from the point of view of the respondents/ participants.

How has the use of panels affected the research design?

The use of panels allows the research to better address the issue of analyzing the change of purchase behavior over time for the participants. Panel surveys are those “where the same households or individuals are interviewed repeatedly at various points in time, have important advantages over independent cross-sections, such as efficiency gains in recruiting, reduced sampling variation in the measurement of change, and the possibility of analyzing behavior at the individual respondent level” (Toepoel, 2008) As panels are specifically designed for collecting data over a period of time usually up to a year (Deaton, 1997), the behavior of the participant can be effectively analyzed and evaluated from the collected data. By using panels the research became more cohesive and practical, while simultaneously previously recorded information about the purchase behavior of the participants also needed to be gathered for comparison purposes. Moreover the control group and the test group were tested with targeted and no targeted ads to determine the influence of the ads on the purchase behavior of the participants.

How have ethical issues influenced the research design?

The ethical issues that were faced in the research design pertained to how the interaction between the research setup and the participants would be conducted. The use of pop up menus and messages was widespread earlier as it expands reach (Fogg, 2003), however as advertising online has advanced, so have laws pertaining to online advertising which present pop up ads and messages in the category of ethically questionable. “Type of advertising some consider questionable are those that open in a new window. The prime example, of course, is the pop-up ad, which appears in a small window in front of the main browser window. The pop-under is similar, but appears behind the main browser window, so a user doesn’t see it until they close that window. In both cases, advertisers may be hoping that users will inadvertently click on the window while attempting to close it and thus be taken to the advertiser’s site” (Spizziri) As a result even though the research involved the use of pop up menus for entrance into the survey, this option can no longer be used for the purpose again.

Define the various measurements collected in Consumer Direct

The two main metrics that were involved with the test group in the research pertained to the effectiveness of ad advertisement targeting and the persuasiveness of the advertising. The effectiveness of the ad advertising was determined to determine whether the visitors to the sites that were exposed to the advertisements become more likely to purchase as well. On the other hand the persuasiveness of the advertising pertains to determining what percentage of the households that were exposed to the advertisements actually purchased the product being advertised through the banner ads.

Other metrics that were used in the research included ad awareness, brand awareness, brand favorability, message association, purchase and purchase intent. The ad awareness provides the exposure of the advertisements on the participants, while the brand awareness depicts the knowledge of the customer of the brands being advertised and their associated affiliations. The brand favorability provides the preference of the research participants specific to the brands in the form of rating. The message association on the other hand provides the knowledge the participants have specific to the slogan, and the sale message of the advertisement and the brand being advertised. The purchase intent on the other hand provides the likelihood of the participants to purchase a product.

Aside from this supporting data from the Homescan pertaining to the participants was also taken which provided the house hold size and the prior purchase behavior of the participants.

What analysis would be appropriate for the data collected through Consumer Direct?

The data collected from the respondents/participants in the research needed to be assessed for variance and correlations to determine the link between exposure to the advertisements and the likelihood of increased purchase behavior on part of the participants. The control and the test group results collected can therefore be analyzed using the ANCOVA analysis for covariance. “Analysis of covariance is a more sophisticated method of analysis of variance. It is based on inclusion of supplementary variables (covariates) into the model. This lets you account for inter-group variation associated not with the “treatment” itself, but with covariates” (‘Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA)’, 2009). The method allows for the comparison of the advertisement exposed group to the control group.


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