1. Introduction to Internet Advertising (IA)
The Internet as a marketing medium offers many unique challenges to marketers. To assist marketers in their venture on-line, comparisons and contrasts to existing marketing theory have been used to build a conceptual understanding of the current state of the Internet and its implications for consumer transactions (cf., Hoffman and Novak, 1996a; Hoffman, Novak and Chatterjee, 1995; Schlosser and Kanfer, forthcoming). To further understand the commercial possibilities of the Internet, several internet usage surveys have been conducted to document consumers’ behavior online (the most notable being GVU, 1999 and the HERMES project by Gupta, 1995; see Hoffman, Kalsbeek, and Novak, 1996, for a review). Yet, in terms of assessing the commercial effectiveness of the Internet and the value of Internet advertising, most research has concentrated upon the company’s rather than consumers’ point of view (Berthon, Pitt, and Watson, 1996). As a result, many decisions regarding Internet advertising (IA) are being made with relatively little speciﬁc knowledge about consumers’ attitudes toward IA and how the structure of these IA attitudes compare to the structure of attitudes toward advertising in traditional media. The aim of the current research is to examine consumers’ perceptions and judgments of IA. Consumers’ attitudes toward advertising have been considered important to track because they likely inﬂuence consumers’ exposure, attention, and reaction to individual ads (cf. Alwitt and Prabhakar, 1992) through a variety of cognitive and affective process (Lutz, 1985). One fundamental difference between Internet and traditional advertising is the degree to which the consumer versus the company has control over advertising exposure. With traditional advertising, consumers play a relatively inactive role in exposure. Advertisements interrupt or intercept consumers’ attention to other information (e.g, a television program, a radio show, or trafﬁc signs). In essence, advertisements are “pushed” at them. With many forms of IA, however, the consumer has a great deal of control over advertising exposure. The company may request the consumers’ attention (e.g., through banner ads on others’ Web sites or through hyperlinks), but it is up to the consumer to seek additional commercial content. Consumers can select whether, when, and how much commercial content they wish to view. That is, consumers “pull” for electronic advertising content. Because IA exposure is largely under the consumer’s volition, it is particularly important to understand the valence and structure of one important driver of advertising exposure: attitudes toward IA. 2.1. What is Internet Advertising?
According to consumers, IA includes many forms of commercial content—from electronic advertisements that are similar to traditional advertisements (e.g., billboards, banner ads) to formats that are different from traditional advertisements, such as corporate Web sites (Ducoffe, 1996). Thus, it appears that there are idiosyncratic differences in consumers’ perceptions of what constitutes IA such that any speciﬁc deﬁnition of IA is likely to be a bad ﬁt for measuring IA perceptions. Because the goal of the present research is to assess consumer perceptions of IA, IA is described broadly as any form of commercial content available on the Internet that is designed by businesses to inform consumers about a product or service. Hence, IA can be delivered via any channel (e.g., video clip, print or audio), in any form (e.g., an e-mail message or an interactive game), and provide information at any degree of depth (e.g, a corporate logo or an official Web site). 2.2. History of Internet Advertising
Internet advertising began in 1994 when HotWire sold the first banner ads to several advertisers. Revenue in the United States grew to an estimated $7.1 billion in 2001 or about 3.1 percent of overall advertising spending. The dot-com...
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