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why do people avoid advertising on the internet? - Many Too Many

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90 The Journal of Advertising<br />

1997; Korga<strong>on</strong>kar and Wolin 1999; Li, Edwards, and Lee<br />

2002). Advertising <str<strong>on</strong>g>avoid</str<strong>on</strong>g>ance <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> Internet might be different<br />

from that of traditi<strong>on</strong>al media in several ways. For example,<br />

many <str<strong>on</strong>g>people</str<strong>on</strong>g> still believe that <strong>the</strong> Internet is a tool or<br />

task-performing medium ra<strong>the</strong>r than an entertainment medium,<br />

which may make <str<strong>on</strong>g>people</str<strong>on</strong>g> <str<strong>on</strong>g>avoid</str<strong>on</strong>g> Internet ads more vigorously,<br />

especially when <strong>the</strong>y have limited time to perform<br />

specific tasks. Sec<strong>on</strong>d, Internet users are c<strong>on</strong>cerned with <strong>the</strong><br />

speed of data access and retrieval (<str<strong>on</strong>g>do</str<strong>on</strong>g>wnloading time), which<br />

is less applicable to o<strong>the</strong>r traditi<strong>on</strong>al media. Internet users<br />

may have negative attitudes toward Internet ads when <strong>the</strong>y<br />

perceive thar Internet ads slow <str<strong>on</strong>g>do</str<strong>on</strong>g>wn <strong>the</strong> speed of data access.<br />

In additi<strong>on</strong>, <strong>the</strong> Internet involves more two-way interactivity<br />

or voluntary acti<strong>on</strong> from c<strong>on</strong>sumers (e.g., clicking banners,<br />

hyperlinks, etc.), and thus, Internet ad <str<strong>on</strong>g>avoid</str<strong>on</strong>g>ance might encompass<br />

intenti<strong>on</strong>al refraining from any fur<strong>the</strong>r acti<strong>on</strong> (e.g.,<br />

ignoring ads by intenti<strong>on</strong>ally not clicking any hyperlink). This<br />

is illustrated by low click-through rates (typically less than<br />

1%) and banner blindness.<br />

The extant research <strong>on</strong> ad <str<strong>on</strong>g>avoid</str<strong>on</strong>g>ance has been mostly restricted<br />

to traditi<strong>on</strong>al media such as televisi<strong>on</strong>, radio, newspaper,<br />

and magazines, and <strong>the</strong>re has been limited academic research<br />

<strong>on</strong> Internet ad <str<strong>on</strong>g>avoid</str<strong>on</strong>g>ance. Given that c<strong>on</strong>sumer resp<strong>on</strong>ses to<br />

Internet <str<strong>on</strong>g>advertising</str<strong>on</strong>g> are disappointingly low, <strong>the</strong>re may prove<br />

to be practical advantages to employing a <strong>the</strong>oretical framework<br />

to examine <strong>the</strong> reas<strong>on</strong>s <str<strong>on</strong>g>people</str<strong>on</strong>g> <str<strong>on</strong>g>avoid</str<strong>on</strong>g> Internet ads.<br />

THEORETICAL MODEL<br />

Based <strong>on</strong> extant communicati<strong>on</strong>, psychology and marketing<br />

<strong>the</strong>ories, and research, we <strong>the</strong>orize that Internet users exercise<br />

ad <str<strong>on</strong>g>avoid</str<strong>on</strong>g>ance <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> Internet because of perceived goal impediment,<br />

perceived ad clutter, and prior negative experience.<br />

The c<strong>on</strong>ceptual explicati<strong>on</strong> of ad <str<strong>on</strong>g>avoid</str<strong>on</strong>g>ance as a functi<strong>on</strong> of<br />

perceived goal impediment and perceived ad clutter stems<br />

from informati<strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong>ory (<str<strong>on</strong>g>advertising</str<strong>on</strong>g> as noise). Advertising<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>avoid</str<strong>on</strong>g>ance is also <strong>the</strong>orized to be a functi<strong>on</strong> of prior negative<br />

experience. Theoretical justificati<strong>on</strong> for this associati<strong>on</strong> is derived<br />

from effects of prior knowledge and experience <strong>on</strong> c<strong>on</strong>sumer<br />

decisi<strong>on</strong> processes (Bettman and Park 1980). Cogniti<strong>on</strong><br />

(C), affect (A), and behavior (6) are three ways in which c<strong>on</strong>sumers<br />

may resp<strong>on</strong>d to <str<strong>on</strong>g>advertising</str<strong>on</strong>g> stimuli (Vakratsas and<br />

Ambler 1999); <strong>the</strong>refore, we a<str<strong>on</strong>g>do</str<strong>on</strong>g>pt <strong>the</strong> three comp<strong>on</strong>ents to<br />

develop three types of Internet <str<strong>on</strong>g>advertising</str<strong>on</strong>g> <str<strong>on</strong>g>avoid</str<strong>on</strong>g>ance. The<br />

following secti<strong>on</strong>s explore <strong>the</strong> <strong>the</strong>oretical linkage of ad <str<strong>on</strong>g>avoid</str<strong>on</strong>g>ance<br />

with its antecedent c<strong>on</strong>structs and generate corresp<strong>on</strong>ding<br />

research hypo<strong>the</strong>ses.<br />

Perceived Goal Impediment<br />

Ad <str<strong>on</strong>g>avoid</str<strong>on</strong>g>ance can be caused by perceived goal impediment<br />

occasi<strong>on</strong>ed by <str<strong>on</strong>g>advertising</str<strong>on</strong>g>. C<strong>on</strong>sumers are more likely to be<br />

goal-directed when <strong>the</strong>y use <strong>the</strong> Internet, and Internet ads are<br />

perceived to be more intrusive when compared with o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

media ads (Li, Edwards, and Lee 2002). When ads interrupt a<br />

c<strong>on</strong>sumers goal, it may result in undesirable outcomes, such<br />

as aggravati<strong>on</strong>, negative attitudes, and ad <str<strong>on</strong>g>avoid</str<strong>on</strong>g>ance (Krugman<br />

1983). When Internet ads are a significant source of noise or<br />

nuisance, hindering c<strong>on</strong>sumer efforts to browse Web c<strong>on</strong>tent,<br />

<strong>the</strong>y can disrupt c<strong>on</strong>sumer Web page viewing, distract viewers<br />

from <strong>the</strong> Web page's editorial integrity, and intrude <strong>on</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong>ir search for desired informati<strong>on</strong>. For instance, c<strong>on</strong>sumers<br />

might feel that <strong>the</strong> navigati<strong>on</strong> process to locate desired c<strong>on</strong>tent<br />

is difficult <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> Internet because Internet ads disrupt<br />

or intrude <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong>ir overall search for desired informati<strong>on</strong>, which<br />

may result in a retreat from <strong>the</strong> source of interference (i.e., ad<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>avoid</str<strong>on</strong>g>ance). We <strong>the</strong>refore hypo<strong>the</strong>size that perceived goal impediment,<br />

indicated by c<strong>on</strong>sumer search hindrance, disrupti<strong>on</strong>,<br />

and distracti<strong>on</strong>, may evoke ad <str<strong>on</strong>g>avoid</str<strong>on</strong>g>ance <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> Internet.<br />

H1: The greater- <strong>the</strong> perceived goal impediment, <strong>the</strong> greater <strong>the</strong><br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>advertising</str<strong>on</strong>g> <str<strong>on</strong>g>avoid</str<strong>on</strong>g>ance <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> Internet.<br />

Perceived Ad Clutter <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> Internet<br />

Several studies <strong>on</strong> ad clutter suggest that <strong>the</strong> number of ads<br />

in a vehicle is closely related to perceived <str<strong>on</strong>g>advertising</str<strong>on</strong>g> clutter<br />

(Ha 1996; James and Kover 1992; Speck and Elliot 1997).<br />

Elliot and Speck (1998) define "perceived ad clutter" as a<br />

c<strong>on</strong>sumer's c<strong>on</strong>victi<strong>on</strong> that <strong>the</strong> amount of <str<strong>on</strong>g>advertising</str<strong>on</strong>g> in a<br />

medium is excessive. Ad clutter <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> Internet can be<br />

operati<strong>on</strong>alized as <strong>the</strong> number of banner ads, pop-up ads,<br />

advertorials, text links, and so forth, that appear <strong>on</strong> a single<br />

Web page (ad excessive ness). C<strong>on</strong>sumer irritati<strong>on</strong> with <strong>the</strong><br />

number of ads <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> Internet, or <strong>the</strong> percepti<strong>on</strong> that <strong>the</strong><br />

Internet is exclusively an <str<strong>on</strong>g>advertising</str<strong>on</strong>g> medium (ad exclusiveness),<br />

should also logically c<strong>on</strong>tribute to <strong>the</strong> percepti<strong>on</strong> of<br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>advertising</str<strong>on</strong>g> clutter. This perceived ad clutter might, in turn,<br />

lead to negative attitudes and subsequent ad <str<strong>on</strong>g>avoid</str<strong>on</strong>g>ance.<br />

H2: The greater <strong>the</strong> perceived ad clutter, <strong>the</strong> greater <strong>the</strong><br />

<str<strong>on</strong>g>advertising</str<strong>on</strong>g> <str<strong>on</strong>g>avoid</str<strong>on</strong>g>ance <strong>on</strong> <strong>the</strong> Internet.<br />

Prior Negative Experiences<br />

C<strong>on</strong>sumer prior knowledge is known to influence <strong>the</strong> type<br />

and degree of informati<strong>on</strong> processing, such as systematic organizati<strong>on</strong>,<br />

comparis<strong>on</strong>s, evaluati<strong>on</strong> of brand, and purchasing<br />

behavior (Bettman and Park 1980; Russo and Johns<strong>on</strong> 1980).<br />

Informati<strong>on</strong> learned from experience is also known to have a<br />

str<strong>on</strong>g and direct impact <strong>on</strong> attitudes and behavior (Fazio and<br />

Zanna 1981; Smith and Swinyard 1982). C<strong>on</strong>sumers tend to<br />

rely <strong>on</strong> c<strong>on</strong>clusi<strong>on</strong>s drawn from <strong>the</strong>ir pers<strong>on</strong>al experiences<br />

because <strong>the</strong>y often value such learning and build internal at-

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