Journal of Marketing Research

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JIE ZHANG, MICHEL WEDEL, and RIK PIETERS*
There is much evidence that the presence of a feature advertisement can increase the sales and market share of the featured product. However, little is known about how feature ad characteristics (e.g., size, color, and location of the advertisement) affect the sales outcomes and how the effects take place. Prior research has predicted that feature advertisements lead to behavioral outcomes through their effect on consumers’ attention. Building on this idea, the authors propose a Bayesian statistical model to study how feature ad characteristics affect sales of the featured products and the mediating role of attention in these relationships. They use data from eye-tracking tests of feature advertisements, aggregated and matched with sales data at the level of the feature advertisement. Their approach accounts for endogeneity in the key variables involved and overcomes limitations of standard mediation analyses. They show that the gaze duration on a feature advertisement affects sales of the featured product beyond the mere presence of the advertisement and that a standard mediation analysis that does not accommodate endogeneity produces biased estimates of the effects of feature ad characteristics on sales. Their proposed methodology is widely applicable to mediation analyses. The findings imply that attention data collected in lab tests can help marketers compare the relative sales outcomes of different feature ad designs and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of feature adverting decisions.

Keywords: endogeneity, instrument variable, promotion, eye tracking, visual marketing

Sales Effects of Attention to Feature Advertisements: A Bayesian Mediation Analysis Feature advertising is a sales promotion tool that consists of print materials intended to inform consumers about the availability, prices, and discounts of products (Blattberg and Neslin 1990; Mulhern and Leone 1990). It is informative advertising of which retailers primarily control creative execution and media placement. There is extensive evi*Jie Zhang is Associate Professor of Marketing and Harvey Sanders Fellow of Retail Management (e-mail: jiejie@rhsmith.umd.edu), and Michel Wedel is PepsiCo Professor of Consumer Science (e-mail: mwedel@rhsmith.umd.edu), Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland. Rik Pieters is Professor of Marketing, Department of Marketing, Tilburg University, the Netherlands (e-mail: Pieters@uvt.nl). The authors are grateful to Verify International and GfK International for providing the data used in this study. They contributed equally to this research and are listed in reverse alphabetical order. John Hauser served as associate editor for this article.

dence that the use of feature advertising has strong effects on brand choice, sales, market share, and store traffic (Allenby and Ginter 1995; Blattberg, Briesch, and Fox 1995; Dhar, Hoch, and Kumar 2001; Kaul and Wittink 1995; Leone and Srinivasan 1996; Mulhern and Leone 1990; Zhang 2006). However, although prior research has documented that the presence of feature advertisements affects purchase behavior, little is known about how much feature ad design characteristics (e.g., size, color, and location of the advertisement) affect the sales outcomes. In addition, it is unclear through what mechanism the ad design characteristics influence sales, if at all. Prior research in the visual attention and marketing literature has predicted that design characteristics of feature advertisements influence behavioral outcomes through their effects on attention. In other words, it is suggested that attention mediates the influence of feature ad characterisJournal of Marketing Research Vol. XLVI (October 2009), 669–681

© 2009, American Marketing Association ISSN: 0022-2437 (print), 1547-7193 (electronic)

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JOURNAL OF MARKETING RESEARCH, OCTOBER 2009 followed by descriptions of the study design and data. Next, we...
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