BORIS Theses

BORIS Theses
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The Emotional and Cognitive Responses of Consumers to Innovative Practices in Online Marketing

Petrova, Alisa (2022). The Emotional and Cognitive Responses of Consumers to Innovative Practices in Online Marketing. (Thesis). Universität Bern, Bern

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Innovation in online marketing is becoming increasingly important, especially as the global events of the last two years have accelerated digitization for consumers and businesses of all sizes and industries (i.e., Covid-19 pandemic, McKinsey, 2020). As consumers spend more time online it has never been more vital for companies to build trust, protect consumers data, and provide consumers with experiences that are built on their needs. The increasing development of innovations in online marketing has brought the importance of privacy and data use to the forefront as consumers become more concerned about protecting their data online. For example, recent study shows that as many as 66 % of global consumers are concerned about their personal data and how companies use them (Adobe, 2022). Moreover, the devastating data breaches of the past few years (e.g., Cambridge Analytica scandal) have demonstrated how easy it is to obtain personal data of consumers. Furthermore, the innovations have also enabled new methods of online marketing. For example, influencer marketing is becoming increasingly important with an estimated annual growth rate of 32 % for the period between 2020 and 2025 (MarketsandMarkets Research, 2020). Therefore, brands often advertise their products or services through various small and large influencers on social media platforms such as Instagram. Since influencers use their own channels, they create the impression of a personal recommendation rather than a commercial promotion making this online practice different from other forms of online advertising and therefore increasingly popular among brands. Overall, due to the increasing innovation in online marketing there is a shift in consumers’ perception of online advertising that needs to be studied in more detail. Especially, the cognitive and emotional responses to innovation in online marketing are of great importance so that researchers and marketers better understand how consumers perceive brands’ rapidly changing innovative online marketing strategies and what consequence these innovations have. This thesis consists of three papers that investigate consumers’ perceptions of different innovations in online marketing. Paper I explores consumers’ perceptions of different influencer types in influencer marketing context on Instagram. Since consumers spend more time on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, online advertising on social media through influencers is becoming more relevant for companies. For example, recent market research study shows the importance of influencer marketing as there is an increasing impact that social media influencers have on consumers’ purchases (Adobe, 2020). These Influencers use their own social media channels for advertising, which is different from other forms of online advertising practices. The so-called native advertising blurs the line between advertising and consumer-generated content, making it sometimes difficult for consumers to identify advertising as such (Campbell et. al, 2019). This issue has not gone unnoticed by regulatory agencies. In recent years, several regulatory guidelines were released to protect consumers by forcing influencers to disclose their relationships in online media endorsements more clearly (e.g., European Advertising Standards Alliance [EASA], 2018; the Federal Trade Commission [FTC], 2017; the Word of Mouth Marketing Association [WOMMA], 2017). In the real world, however, this desirable practice of sponsorship disclosure is often absent or hidden. It is believed that influencers are concerned about their likability when disclosing sponsorships (Audrezet & Charry, 2019; BBC, 2020). As there are several different influencer types on Instagram, Paper I investigates the role of sponsorship disclosure among these different influencer types and the effect of the disclosure on consumers’ brand evaluation and influencer likability. Paper I was published in the Journal of Interactive Marketing Special Issue: Examining the Unanticipated Consequences of Interactive Marketing. Paper II and Paper III deal with the phenomenon of creepiness, which is becoming increasingly relevant in online marketing. Especially, personalized online advertising is perceived as creepy by consumers (Schomer, 2021). As a consequence, for example, a large number of consumers unsubscribe from personalized online advertising (Periscope by McKinsey, 2019). As the phenomenon of creepiness in personalized online advertising is increasingly important, there is a need to understand and measure it. To measure whether personalized online advertisements evoke creepiness we developed a measurement instrument in Paper II that captures the phenomenon of creepiness in personalized online advertising context. Using established scale development methods, we conceptualized creepiness and its dimensions in the specific context of personalized online advertising. Further, the research shows that personalized online advertisements that are perceived as creepy have a negative impact on the advertising effectiveness of the advertising brand. Paper III deals with the inner-psychic mechanisms of the phenomenon of creepiness in personalized online advertising but also in a more general context. The underlying mechanism of the phenomenon of creepiness has not yet been sufficiently studied. Most research has been centered around the antecedents and consequences of this complex emotion. A comprehensive conceptualization of the emotion creepiness is still largely missing. Therefore, the aim of Paper III is to conceptualize the phenomenon of crepiness as an emotion using theories of emotion (i.e., Appraisal Theory) and to elaborate its different components in a process component model of creepiness across different situation related and unrelated to advertising. Moreover, Paper III investigates the consequences of creepiness as well as the moderating role of consumer-brand relationship in creepy advertising situations. In conclusion, my dissertation has two main topics: Perception of influencer marketing and the phenomenon of creepiness in personalized online advertising and beyond. Both topics are timely and relevant since digital marketing is becoming increasingly important and due to the current pandemic, the digital migration is even more rapid (Baig et al., 2020). Thus, studying consumer responses to different digital advertising strategies is an important contribution to research and practice. Summary of The Specific Papers Paper I examines the issue of sponsorship disclosure in influencer marketing. This issue stems from the fact that some influencers are trying to hide the fact that their posts contain paid advertising despite the demand of several regulatory parties, which force influencers to disclose their material Relationships (e.g., European Advertising Standards Alliance [EASA]). This leads to difficulties for consumers who are often unable to make an accurate distinction as to whether the influencer is offering a personal recommendation or doing a promotion. Given this issue and the fact that there are different influencer types (e.g., micro, macro, etc.), we examine to what extent sponsored posts of different influencer types affect consumers’ evaluations of the sponsoring brand and the influencer as well as what role the sponsorship disclosure plays therein. We use several experimental studies and demonstrate that sponsored posts of mega influencers increase consumers’ persuasion knowledge relative to the posts of nano influencers, which decreases the trustworthiness of those posts and in turn negatively impact both brand and influencer evaluations. Interestingly, our results reveal that this indirect effect is only present when the sponsorship is not disclosed. Therefore, more transparency by disclosing the material relationship with the brand can eliminate the negative impacts of persuasion knowledge on the trustworthiness of posts and subsequent evaluations of the brand and the influencer. In Paper II we developed a measurement instrument that captures the phenomenon of creepiness in personalized online advertising context. Using established scale development methods, we conceptualized creepiness and its dimensions in the specific context of personalized online advertising and developed a 15-item scale to measure it. This is important since increasing number of consumers find personalized online advertising creepy (Periscope by McKinsey, 2019). Thus, researchers and marketers are in need of a measurement to assess potential level of creepiness. Creepiness in personalized online advertising has three unique dimensions – the perception of privacy intrusion, the perception of surveillance, and the feeling of uneasiness among consumers. Moreover, our experimental study shows that personalized online advertisements that are perceived as creepy lead to lower brand attitude, lower purchase intention and a more negative affective response towards the advertisement. Paper III takes a deeper perspective and investigates the inner-psychic processes of the creepiness emotion and its components in marketing related and unrelated situations. Prior research acknowledged that creepiness is an emotional response (e.g., Langer & König, 2018; McAndrew & Koehnke, 2016), however, there is a dearth of studies that appropriately investigated the phenomenon in a nuanced way by using theories of emotion. Across a series of studies, we show that creepiness is an emotion with different elements in a component process model. Using theories of appraisal, we show that creepiness emerges when a situation is perceived as ambiguous regarding potential harm/threat and intrusively surveilling. These two appraisals lead to the feeling of uneasiness in consumers which in turn activates reactance. In marketing related context, the evoked reactance lowers brand attitude and purchase intention. Interestingly, our study shows that this effect is stronger for consumers with prior higher levels of brand trust than for consumers with prior lower levels of brand trust. Thus, we provide a much better understanding of the creepiness emotion by utilizing the process component model (Scherer, 2005) as well as directly incorporating and drawing upon the appraisal theory (Moors et al., 2013) to examine the various components and their respective roles in the creepiness emotion.

Item Type: Thesis
Dissertation Type: Cumulative
Date of Defense: 25 April 2022
Subjects: 300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics
600 Technology > 650 Management & public relations
Institute / Center: 03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Department of Business Management > Institute of Innovation Management
Depositing User: Hammer Igor
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2023 10:32
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2023 10:38

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