Summary of Findings
The findings were reported in Chapter 4 and a summary of the results can be seen in Table 4.5. For Hypothesis 1, based on the analysis in this study, the researcher did not find empirical evidence indicating a statistically significant relationship between Internet advertising attitudes and website texts and attitudes towards the brand, attitudes toward the website, and behavioral intention. For Hypothesis 2, the results indicated empirical support that participants with less positive attitudes towards Internet advertising have a better attitude toward a website when an instrumental text is used. For Hypothesis 3, the results supported the hypothesis that participants that used the Internet for commercial activity prefer the instrumental website text. For Hypothesis 4, the results did not find statistical significance in the relationship of Internet commercial usage, online advertising attitude, and website texts with brand attitudes, website attitudes, and behavior intention. This chapter further discusses these findings as well as recommendations for business practice, theory, and future research. In this chapter, there is a further analysis and discussion of the findings, recommendations for practitioners and researchers, and suggestions for future research.
H1a: Participants who report high positive attitudes towards Internet advertising (as measured by perceived informativeness, perceived entertainment, and perceived credibility) will show a preference for symbolic website texts, as measured by attitudes towards the brand, attitudes toward the website, and behavioral intention.
In statistical analysis, this hypothesis was not supported. An analysis of variance indicated that there was not a statistically significant difference between Internet advertising attitudes and message text, as measured by attitudes towards the brand, attitudes toward the website, and behavioral intention. Both Ducoffe (1996) and Yuan (2006) found in their research that an individual’s attitude toward advertising can affect how that person views advertising. In this study, websites were used as the form of advertising. This study did not find statistically significant support for H1a. There does not seem to be a preference of website texts for those reporting positive attitudes toward Internet advertising.
H2a: Participants with negative attitudes toward Internet advertising will prefer the instrumental website text over the symbolic text, as measured by attitude toward the brand, attitude toward the website, and behavioral intention.
In hypothesis two, participants with less positive attitudes towards Internet advertising were examined using an analysis of variance. In chapter 4, it was reported that there does not seem to be an effect of website text on brand attitude or behavior intention, with participants that have negative attitudes toward Internet advertising. However, the participants with less positive advertising attitudes had a more positive response, as measured by website attitude, to instrumental texts. This leads to partial support of H2a. This differs somewhat from the Hong (2006) study. In the Hong (2006) study, there were no significant effects of website texts on attitude toward the website, attitude toward the brand, and behavioral intention. Participants with less positive attitudes towards Internet advertising had a more positive reaction, as measured by website attitude, to the instrumental text.
H3a: Participants that report a high usage of shopping and gathering information related to commercial products will show a more positive attitudinal response, as measured by attitude toward the brand, attitude toward the website, and behavioral intention, towards instrumental website texts.
The analysis showed mixed results. A statistically significant relationship between high usage and attitude toward the brand was not found. A positive relationship was identified between instrumental website messages among high users of consumer information and attitude toward the website and behavior intention. Those that use the Internet primarily for commercial reasons are more likely to have positive attitudes towards websites that feature instrumental texts. In previous research, heavy commercial Internet users found Internet advertising honest, believable, entertaining, enjoyable, informative, and helpful (Korganonkar & Wolin, 2002). This study builds on Korganonkar and Wolin’s (2002) findings to examine website texts. Statistically significant support for H3a was found in this study.
H4a: Participants that report a high usage of shopping and gathering information related to commercial products and a high rating for positive attitudes towards Internet advertising will show the strongest preference for instrumental website texts.
The analysis did not show statistically significant support for H4a. There were mixed results, as shown in Table 4. In all but one category of analysis the mean score for the instrumental text was higher than the symbolic text for attitude toward the brand, attitude toward the website, and behavior intention. The only exception was for participants with negative views of Internet advertising and low commercial activity, that showed a preference for the symbolic text (M = 14.86, SD=4.68) over the instrumental text (M=14.00, SD=5.63).
There were two primary research questions guiding this study. The first question focused on the attitudes and motives of Internet users: Do attitudes about Internet advertising and Internet motives affect consumers’ attitude toward a commercial website? Pearson correlations identified a positive effect of Internet advertising attitudes and attitude toward the brand, attitude toward the website, and behavior intention. Pearson correlations did not show a correlation between commercial Internet usage and attitude toward the brand, attitude toward the website, and behavior intention.
In previous research, a positive relationship between web usage and attitudes has been found (Korgaonkar & Wolin, 2002). Heavy users in the Korgaonkar and Wolin (2002) study found Internet advertising honest, believable, entertaining, enjoyable, informative, and helpful. This study did not find empirical support for Korgaonkar and Wolin’s (2002) findings. To further examine this possibility in this study, another Pearson correlation score was calculated. The high and low commercial usage groups were tested against the advertising attitude cumulative score (this was the score that was later used to create the groups used in the analysis of the hypotheses). There was not a correlation between high commercial Internet activity and attitude towards online advertising, r = .047, n = 180, p = .534.
The second research question delved further into the texts that might be presented on a website: Do Internet marketing messages such as symbolic and instrumental texts, on a website’s homepage, affect consumers’ attitudes toward a commercial website? The study found mixed results with no strong overall support that website messages affect consumers’ attitudes. This is the same finding that Hong (2006) reported in a similar study of website texts.
One area of further examination was to see if participants of the survey who reported buying a car in the next six months had more or less positive attitudes toward a website. As this study used automotive example websites, the participants’ interest in automobiles could potentially have affected their attitudes toward the website. To examine this, a Pearson correlation was calculated. There was not a correlation between automotive purchase and attitude toward the brand, r = .067, n = 198, p = .360. There was not a correlation between automotive purchase and attitude toward the website, r = .051, n = 198, p = .485. There was not a correlation between automotive purchase and behavior intention, r = .131, n = 198, p = .071.
Implications for Practice
The results identify several considerations for marketing practitioners. This study found that Internet advertising attitude is not a statistically significant predictor of brand attitudes, website attitudes, and behavioral intention. It was theorized that there would be a significant difference between positive and less positive attitudes, but none was shown. For practitioners, this potentially eliminates one consideration when designing website texts.
Hypothesis one and two looked at advertising attitudes and the effects on attitude toward the website, attitude toward the brand, and behavioral intention. The only significant finding was that participants with negative attitudes towards Internet advertising had a more positive website attitude with the instrumental text. This could indicate that an instrumental text could be best for automotive websites by producing a more positive website response. Consumers spend more time examining the contents of instrumental websites that contain terminologies, scientific and technological functions, and features of products (Chuang, Tsai, Cheng, & Sun, 2009). For automobiles, instrumental information presentation could be better than symbolic website texts.
Hypothesis three examined commercial Internet usage and the impact of instrumental and symbolic texts on attitude toward the website, attitude toward the brand, and behavioral intention. The participants of the study that reported using the Internet highly for commercial activity had a more positive attitude toward the brand and higher behavior intention when presented with the instrumental text. This further supports the idea that instrumental websites might be the best choice for automotive websites.
Hypothesis four looked at Internet advertising attitude and commercial Internet usage to evaluate message strategies. Table 4 shows the results. In all but one category the instrumental website outperformed the symbolic website. The one category where symbolic text performed better was for behavioral intention in participants that had low commercial activity and negative views of Internet advertising.
This study had a sample of high-earning households (in the top quintile), United States’ citizens and evaluated website text strategies for automotive websites. Among high-earning households that report high levels of commercial Internet activity, instrumental website texts are the recommended message strategy. This study focused on an automotive manufacturer website, so different products/services and different demographics could lead to other recommended message strategies.
Recommendations for Research
This study found that Internet advertising attitude is not a statistically significant predictor of brand attitudes, website attitudes, and behavioral intention. Previously, research by Ducoffe (1996) was used to calculate advertising attitude, but not much research existed that used advertising attitudes as an independent variable to try and predict attitudes toward a website, attitude toward a brand, and behavior intention. It was theorized that there would be a significant difference between positive and less positive attitudes, but no statistically significant difference emerged. This helps to fill a small knowledge gap in the marketing field. For this study, Internet advertising attitudes were combined, and then divided into two groups at the mid-point for analysis. Future research could divide the Internet advertising attitude up into more groups or work with the raw scores, and might better identify a correlation than the nominal variable used in this study.
This study was limited by examining automotive manufacturer website texts. Future research could further examine the attitudes of people and examine more types of product or service websites to examine the website attitude response. This study could be repeated using different income demographics to examine if income levels affect attitudes. Another possibility is to design a study with a hybrid text that combines some instrumental and some symbolic text and test that text against a symbolic and an instrumental text.