The influence of online advertising on online shopping behaviour
Students of Applied Psychology & Technology teamed up past semester to write blog posts. You can read the three best posts here: on social media & women’s body image, online advertising & online shopping behavior, and Pokémon Go.
By Lotte Sleurs and Hanne Braeckmans
Due to the special circumstances of CoViD-19, staying at home, watching television and surfing on the Internet became one of our main activities. With the Christmas holidays in sight, we spend even more time exploring the online shops to find the best presents for friends and family. While we are comfortably sitting at home, the one advertisement after the other of ‘the best present for your loved ones’ pops up on our screens. Strange, the ads show the exact things you like or the things you were searching for friends and family before. Is it possible that these ads influence your online shopping behaviour and what you buy in the end? These questions will be answered in this blog post, where we dig a little deeper in the consequences of online advertisements on our online shopping experience.
Online shopping and ads, what’s that?
First, let’s take a look at the two main subjects namely online shopping and online advertisements. For many customers, online shopping has a lot of benefits. It’s not only fast and brings a lot of convenience; it’s also in many cases cheaper than the local stores. Moreover, the variety of products on the Internet is often much larger than offline shopping. Many reasons to sit behind your computer instead of putting on your shoes and go to the real stores (Rakuten Super Logistics, 2018).
And what about the online advertisements? As you all probably know, advertisements are notices or announcements in a public medium like television, radio, internet, events, … promoting a product, service or event with the intent to inform or influence people who receive it. Hence, the main goal of ads is persuading people to buy the product of the ads (The Economic Times, s.d.). The difference between ‘normal’ advertising and online advertising is that online advertising only uses the Internet to deliver promotional messages to consumers (Wikipedia, 2020). The big question is: how do these online ads influence us when we are shopping online?
The use of algorithms
By using ads, companies compete with each other to draw the consumers’ attention. Advertisers are constantly looking to adapt their messages to the personal interests and needs of their potential customers. Mainly, they do that by using smart computer algorithms. How? To attract the consumer and form a positive perception toward the ad, algorithms search the most interesting products for you as an individual. By screening all of your online activity, algorithms detect your interests and base the ads that will pop on your screen on that. By using a range of data points, which can include demographic characters, online behavioural information and personally identifiable information (PII), algorithms know what kind of online personality you have. In that way, these algorithms will send ads that are adjusted to your personal online profile (Singh, 2020).
Because ads show you things that you like, the chance that you will click on the ad will increase. In other words, the fact that you receive advertisements doesn’t influence your shopping behaviour, but the algorithms that choose the content of the ads will influence it! The chance that you will buy a product that the computer chooses, based on your previous searches, is much higher than if the ads are the same for everyone. Research of Aqsa and Kartini (2015) confirms that online advertising has a significant influence on a consumer’s attitude towards a product, mainly because the algorithms choose what you like. Let me give you an example of how these algorithms work. You are looking for a pair of new sneakers. After browsing on a number of web shops, your Facebook starts to haunt you for weeks with pictures of sneakers with tempting buy buttons. The more you see these sneakers, the more you want them. A recognisable situation, right?
To conclude we can say that online advertising undeniably influences our online shopping behaviour because algorithms personalize the ads we receive. You could say it makes the searching process for Christmas presents a lot easier but be careful. The personalised ads increase the chance you will actually buy all these tempting products even when you don’t need them. Forewarned is forearmed!
Aqsa, M. & Kartini, D. (2015). Impact Of Online Advertising On Consumer Attitudes And Interests Buy Online (Survey On Students Of Internet Users In Makassar). International journal of scientific & technology research, 4(4).
Huseynov, F., & Yıldırım, S. Ö. (2016). Internet users’ attitudes toward business-to-consumer online shopping: a survey. Information Development, 32(3), 452–465. https://doi.org/10.1177/0266666914554812
Iweama, V. O., Iweka, A., & Henson, A. (2018). Effects of online advertising on consumer buying behaviour; study of Nigeria police academy cadets. Polac Int’l Journal of Economics and Mgt Science, 4(1).
Senecal, S., Kalczynski, P. J., & Nantel, J. (2005). Consumers’ decision-making process and their online shopping behavior: a clickstream analysis. Journal of Business Research, 58(11), 1599–1608. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2004.06.003
New America. (2020). The Algorithms Behind Digital Advertising. Op newamerica.org [Website]. Geraadpleegd op 18 december 2020 via https://www.newamerica.org/oti/blog/algorithms-behind-digital-advertising/
Online advertising. (2020, 20 december). Wikipedia. Geraadpleegd op 18 december 2020 via https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_advertising
Powles, B.J., Bigdeli, A. & Sarrafzadeh, H. (2009). Systems and methods for targeted advertising. Op Google patents. Geraadpleegd op 15 december 2020 via https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/4b/4a/fb/292fc8fc557c51/US20090192874A1.pdf
Rakuten Super Logistics. (2018). Three key advantages of online shopping. Op rakutensl.com [Website]. Geraadpleegd op 17 december 2020 via https://www.rakutensl.com/post/three-key-advantages-of-online-shopping
The Economic Times. (2020). Definition of ‘Advertising’. Op economictimes.indiatimes.com [Website]. Geraadpleegd op 17 december 2020 via https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/definition/advertising
Vader, C. (2016). De evolutie van reclame: van advertentie tot algoritme. The Big Story, 6 (48). Geraadpleegd op 17 december 2020 via https://thebigstory.nl/evolutie-adverteren-native-naar-algoritme/
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