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A Decade of Online Advertising Research: Key Findings, Gaps, and Directions

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Online advertising has changed dramatically over the past decade, with new tools, platforms, and formats emerging every year. As online advertising becomes more complex and competitive, it is important for marketers to keep up with the latest research and trends in this field.

That’s why I decided to read and summarize an article by Yuping Liu-Thompkins and Hairong Li titled “A Decade of Online Advertising Research: What We Learned and What We Should Focus on Next“.

This article provides a comprehensive review of more than 300 articles on online advertising published in major advertising and marketing journals over the past 10 years. It identifies six themes that have been extensively studied in online advertising research and discusses the key findings, gaps, and future directions for each theme.

The six themes are:

1️⃣ – Online advertising effectiveness:

This theme covers how online ads influence consumer attitudes, behaviors, and outcomes. The article reviews various factors that affect online ad effectiveness, such as ad formats, ad features, ad placement, ad frequency, ad interactivity, ad congruency, consumer characteristics, and consumer responses.

The article also suggests some areas for future research, such as exploring the long-term effects of online ads, comparing different types of online ads (e.g., display vs. video), examining the role of emotions in online ad processing, and investigating the impact of online ads on offline behaviors.

2️⃣ – Online advertising mechanisms:

This article delves into the world of online advertising, exploring how it works and what makes it effective. It examines a variety of theories and models that shed light on the underlying mechanisms behind online advertising’s impact.

For instance, some of these theories include dual-process theories (like the elaboration likelihood model), information processing theories (such as the limited capacity model), persuasion theories (like the social influence theory), learning theories (including the associative learning theory), memory theories (such as the spreading activation theory), and attribution theories (like the self-perception theory).

The article also suggests several promising directions for future research, such as testing existing or new theories in diverse contexts or platforms, combining multiple theories to gain a more comprehensive understanding of online advertising effects, and developing new or refined models that capture the intricate and dynamic nature of online advertising processes.

3️⃣ – Creative elements in online advertising:

This article explores the impact of creative aspects on the effectiveness of online ads. It examines various creative elements that have been studied in online advertising research, including headlines, copy, images, colours, sounds, animations, interactivity, and personalisation.

In addition, the article proposes several directions for future research. For example, researchers could investigate the optimal combination or balance of creative elements for different types of online ads or audiences. They could also explore the role of creativity in enhancing consumer engagement or involvement with online ads.

Finally, researchers could examine how creative elements interact with other factors, such as context, to influence the effectiveness of online ads.

4️⃣ – The role of context in online advertising:

This theme covers how contextual factors affect online ad effectiveness.

This article investigates the impact of contextual factors on the effectiveness of online ads. It examines various contextual factors that have been studied in online advertising research, such as website content or design, website quality or credibility, website genre or category, website mood or atmosphere, social media environment or network structure, and external events or situations.

Moreover, the article suggests several promising avenues for future research. For instance, researchers could explore how context influences consumer attention allocation or cognitive processing of online ads. They could also investigate how context moderates the effects of other factors, such as ad features, on online ad effectiveness.

Finally, researchers could examine how context changes over time or across devices to affect the effectiveness of online ads.

5️⃣ – Online personalization:

This theme covers how personalized aspects of online ads influence their effectiveness.

This article examines various types of personalization that have been studied in online advertising research, such as demographic personalization, behavioural personalization, psychographic personalization, geographic personalization, and social personalization.

In addition, the article proposes several directions for future research. For instance, researchers could investigate how consumers perceive or respond to different levels or dimensions of personalization. They could also explore how personalization affects consumer trust or privacy concerns regarding online ads.

Finally, researchers could examine how personalization interacts with other factors, such as context, to influence the effectiveness of online ads.

6️⃣ – Search advertising:

This theme covers how search engine advertisements influence consumer behavior and outcomes.

It examines various aspects of search advertising that have been studied in online advertising research, such as keyword selection, optimization, bidding strategies, quality score, landing page design, click-through rate, conversion rate, return on investment, cross-channel effects, attribution modeling, search engine optimization, organic vs paid search results, mobile vs desktop search results, voice vs text search results, visual vs textual search results, sponsored vs non-sponsored search results, local vs global search results, dynamic vs static search results, personalized vs generic search results, social vs non-social search results, informational vs transactional search results, and emotional vs rational search results.

Additionally, the article suggests several promising directions for future research. For example, researchers could explore how search advertising affects consumer decision-making or satisfaction. They could also examine how search advertising influences consumer loyalty or retention.

Finally, researchers could investigate how search advertising adapts to new technologies or trends, such as artificial intelligence or voice assistants.

Cross-cutting issues that affect online advertising

In addition to the six themes discussed earlier, the article also addresses some cross-cutting issues that have an impact on online advertising research. These issues include measurement challenges, ethical concerns, and methodological innovations.

The article concludes by highlighting several emerging topics that warrant more attention from researchers. These topics include mobile advertising, social media advertising, native advertising, programmatic buying, and artificial intelligence.

Conclusion

I found this article to be highly informative and insightful. It provided me with a better understanding of the present state and future directions of online advertising research. I hope you have enjoyed reading this summary and have learned something new from it. If you wish to read the full article, you can find it at the following link:

Yuping Liu-Thompkins (2019) A Decade of Online Advertising Research: What We Learned and What We Need to Know, Journal of Advertising, 48:1, 1-13, DOI: 10.1080/00913367.2018.1556138

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Thank you for taking the time to read this post!

Jesus Guzman

M&G Speed Marketing LTD. CEO

Jesus Guzman is the CEO and founder of M&G Speed Marketing LTD, a digital marketing agency focused on rapidly growing businesses through strategies like SEO, PPC, social media, email campaigns, and website optimization. With an MBA and over 11 years of experience, Guzman combines his marketing expertise with web design skills to create captivating online experiences. His journey as an in-house SEO expert has given him insights into effective online marketing. Guzman is passionate about helping businesses achieve impressive growth through his honed skills. He has proud case studies to share and is eager to connect to take your business to the next level.