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A Preview of the
Journal of Advertising Research

March 2015 (Vol. 55, Issue 1)

How Word of Mouth Works in Advertising



Letter from the CEO
The Future Is Here
Insights and analytics experts, marketers, and media planners are more pressed than ever before to align around best-practice solutions, writes Gayle Fuguitt, CEO & President of the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF). “Together, we drive new insights for future-forward neuroscientific approaches to creating great creative; for the ARF mandate for measurement that keeps up with consumers today; and for leading the next generation to make an even greater impact than that of its predecessors.”

Editor’s Desk
How Does Word of Mouth Work in Advertising?
Digital marketing has added depth, complexity, and multiple challenges to marketing researchers. Highlighting this Journal issue’s special section on WOM, Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Precourt previews the latest thinking from scholars in the U.S. and around the world on how “buzz” works.

Speaker’s Box
I Love Creative Advertising: What It Is, When to Call for It, and How to Achieve It
Scott Koslow of Macquarie University, Sydney distills what we know about creativity, how it works, and how to foster it. He suggests that creativity should be the friend of most marketing managers but can easily be destroyed unintentionally by their “expert” advice. But creative advertising is not always best for all brands, particularly market leaders.

Navigating the Peer-Review Process: Reviewers’ Suggestions for a Manuscript
Factors Considered before a Paper Is Accepted or Rejected for the JAR
Here is a unique perspective on this journal’s blind-peer review process, in which 85 percent of submissions are rejected. The authors—Karen Robson and Leyland Pitt (Beedie School of Business – Simon Fraser University), and former JAR Executive Editor Douglas C. West (Kings College London)—analyzed close to 1,000 reviews to determine the motivations for their decisions.

Numbers, Please
Digital Word of Mouth and Its Offline Amplification:
A Holistic Approach to Leveraging and Amplifying All Forms of WOM
Despite the popularity of digital social media, marketers should not be led astray into believing that digital WOM has replaced consumers’ offline communications, comScore’s Gian Fulgoni and Andrew Lipsman assert in this essay. Smart marketers should view WOM marketing holistically and leverage both digital and offline channels to communicate with consumers in the most appropriate manner, and then rely on amplification by “influencers”—both online and offline.


Who Decides What to Watch on TV at Home?
Insights from People-Meter Data in Mexico: Measuring Co-Viewing
And Preference Influences to Help Broadcasters Promote Programming
A 30 percent failure rate of new television programs haunts television programmers and advertisers, most notably in the upfront market, where most advertising spending is committed before the programs even start. But the model demonstrated in this study could help, according to José-Domingo Mora (University of Massachusetts/Dartmouth), Robert Krider, and Jason Ho (Simon Fraser University). The method separates two different sources of interpersonal influence among television viewers in the same household: what the authors call “social co-viewing” and the intrinsic preferences of another viewer independent of co-viewing. Mora, Krider, and Ho applied their method to Mexican people-meter data but believe it can be applied to any people-meter data, providing insight for programmers promoting new shows and for advertisers choosing programs to sponsor in the upfront market. Two interesting findings in Mexico: “co-viewing” is the largest source of mutual influence between husbands and wives, and wives are more influential than their husbands in building audiences.

Consumer Reactions to Intrusiveness of Online-Video Advertisements:
Do Length, Informativeness, and Humor Help (or Hinder) Marketing Outcomes?
Viewing of online videos is reaching unprecedented levels, but how do consumers react to the video ads that intrude on their experience? Indeed, advertisers and website owners might not be accounting for the potentially negative impact of these advertisements. Wright State University’s Kendall Goodrich and Shu Z. Schiller, and University of Pittsburgh’s Dennis Galletta, examined the effects of ad characteristics (length, “informativeness,” and humor) on perceived ad intrusiveness, and, subsequently, on marketing outcomes for both online advertisers and website owners. They found varying degrees of intrusiveness that advertisers should consider, implying the need to rigorously pretest video ads to achieve optimal marketing outcomes.

How Do Consumers Respond to Storylines in Television Advertisements?
A Principal-Components Analysis Tool Helps Decipher Moment-to-Moment Evaluations
One data source that has proven useful in measuring advertising effectiveness is consumers’ moment-to-moment affective response to TV commercials. Researchers Jennifer L. Burton (High Point University – North Carolina), and Leigh McAlister and Wayne D. Hoyer (McCombs School of Business/University of Texas in Austin) examined such moment-to-moment evaluations by applying a form of principal-components analysis (PCA). The tool enabled the researchers to understand divergence in consumer response and to link this divergence to specific elements of the ad’s storyline. In fact, regressing PCA scores against consumer demographics can help determine whether target customers are responding positively or negatively to various aspects of the ad’s storyline.

Special Section:
How Word of Mouth Works in Advertising

E-Word of Mouth: Early Predictor of Audience Engagement:
How Pre-Release “E-WOM” Drives Box-Office Outcomes of Movies
“E-buzz” about movies before they hit the box office is a prime example of the power behind word of mouth on product success or failure. C. Samuel Craig and William H. Greene (New York University Stern School of Business), and AIG’s Anthony Versaci replicated earlier studies in which a film’s budget and a sequel were strong predictors of opening weekend revenues, and added to the equation online buzz variables expressing awareness and purchase intention. Examining factors that contributed to higher levels of e-WOM, they found that higher levels of online peer-to-peer conversations, awareness, and intention to see a particular film at least three weeks prior to its release were predictive of success on the opening weekend. Studios need to establish benchmark levels of such WOM activity to help them determine appropriate advertising expenditures and strategies, the authors recommend.

How Do Teaser Advertisements Boost Word of Mouth about New Products?
For Consumers, the Future Is More Exciting than the Present
In another take on pre-WOM for new products, three authors demonstrated the impact of future-framed marketing on generating positive product-related e-buzz. The two-part study— conducted by Helge Thorbjørnsen (Norwegian School of Economics), Paul Ketelaar, Jonathan van ‘t Riet (Radboud University – Nijmegen, Netherlands), and Micael Dahlén (Stockholm School of Economics)—reported a novel online field experiment on WOM behavior, and tested the proposed WOM effects in a more controlled laboratory setting. Ultimately, the researchers found that pre-announcing new products is more effective in generating product interest and positive WOM than merely advertising new products at the time of product launch.

How Do Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants Respond Differently to Interactivity Online? A Model for Predicting Consumer Attitudes and Intentions to Use Digital Information Products
Growth in all things interactive begs the question: How do users of digital content react differently to perceived interactivity online? Colleen P. Kirk (Mount Saint Mary College), and Pace University’s Larry Chiagouris, Vishal Lala and Jennifer D. E. Thomas found that age has a lot to do with attitudes and intentions to use a new digital information product (adoption intention), such as websites, chat rooms, e-magazines/newspapers, etc. Younger “digital natives” respond more positively to the control and communication aspects of interactivity—potentially leading to positive attitudes and adoption intention of the digital information product. But for older “digital immigrants,” interactivity may not be desirable. It may be, the authors wrote, that older consumers “do no want to work very hard at learning about and unraveling the interactive wrapping of the commercial messages being tossed in their direction.” Messaging decisions, the authors conclude, will need to weigh the age of the target audience more heavily as media become increasingly interactive and mobile.

How Credible is E-Word of Mouth across Digital-Marketing Channels?
The Roles of Social Capital, Information Richness, and Interactivity
Digital communication facilitates the sharing information and spread of WOM, but how credible is that message and its source? Two authors in Israel—Shalom Levy and Yaniv Gvili at Ariel University and ONO Academic College, respectively—studied three key properties of digital channels: social capital, information richness, and interactivity. By formulating a conceptual framework and then conducting a survey across five digital channels, they found that digital channels that include information-enriching tools can enhance channel credibility. Digital-channel managers should create systems that support the flow of a vast amount of diversified information, and that help users efficiently glean insights from the information sought. But marketers who communicate weak messages should seek out channels that are low on information richness to inhibit the risk of counterarguments and consumer criticism.