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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Annotated Bibliography: How can online advertising target different genders?

Goodrich, K. (2014) ‘The Gender Gap: Brain-Processing Differences Between the Sexes Shape Attitudes About Online Advertising', Journal of Advertising Research, 54(1), pp. 32–43.

Goodrich, K. (2014) studies the different ways in which men and women process online advertising and which gender is more receptive to which techniques. The research was conducted by asking 882 participants to look at a specially designed webpage and click on whatever caught their eye. Attention was measured by tracking eye and cursor movements. Participants then completed a questionnaire in which they would rate, out of 7, five attitude items how they felt about the brand advertised. The research found: males pay greater attention to advertisements than women, lower attention levels to the advertisement results in more favourable attitudes towards it (mere-exposure), men were more affected by mere-exposure than women, men were more engaged by graphics and images (‘selective processers'), whereas women were more engaged by the text of an advert, (‘comprehensive processers'). A problem with this study is that it is not clear whether the income of the participants was considered as it may be the case, for example, that those with more disposable income were more receptive to adverts because they were more able to respond to them by purchasing the goods, therefore the validity of the research would be affected by participant variables. Another methodological issue is that the participants were only given 8 webpages to react to, maybe too small a number to accurately gauge attention and attitude. Similarly, it is hard to believe that the advertised product was not gender marked and therefore more appealing to one gender than the other. The example given of the electric razor is unlikely to be unisex, instead directed more to one gender, e.g. a facial razor used by men, which will then be evident in the marketing of the product. Therefore, the advert will almost certainly be directed to a specific gender meaning that the other gender may not be as receptive or have favourable attitudes towards it. This article is not useful as it is not reliable enough to answer my question.

McMahan, C., Hovland, R. and McMillan, S. (2009) ‘Online Marketing Communications: Exploring Online Consumer Behavior By Examining Gender Differences And Interactivity Within Internet Advertising', Journal of Interactive Advertising, 10(1), pp. 61–76.

McMahan et al. (2009)'s study assesses how the different genders interact with internet advertisements. This was done by giving the 80 participants a survey to complete regarding demographic factors and observing their interactions looking at sport shoes on three websites (Nike, Reebok and New Balance) using software that records the activity of the computer screen. Women interacted more with human-to-human forms of communication e.g. direct chat on the website, whereas men were more interactive with human-to-computer activities, e.g. designing their own shoes on the Nike website. The study also found that for women, they were more likely to interact if their emotions were targeted by adverts. A strength of this study is the non-intrusive way in which behaviour was measured (screen recording software). This limits the disturbance of the behaviour analysis, hopefully resulting in participants being more likely to act as they normally would, generating more reliable results. Furthermore, the incredibly focussed sample size of college students can be seen as beneficial as the study is less likely to be affected by participant variables as they might be in Goodrich, K. (2014)'s article as it uses a wide range of generations. In a study regarding internet use, it is likely that generations will perform differently as Generation Y has grown up with the internet and therefore likely to be more confident and competent using it than the Baby Boomers, for example. Although the restricted sample means that the results are not generalisable to other generations, the study is highly replicable so it can be repeated across the different generations. However, this research was conducted in 2009, which in the case of the internet, is a fairly dated source as technology has evolved considerably since. For this reason, this research may be out of date and therefore no longer a reliable source. Overall, this study is not useful in answering the question of, ‘How Can Online Advertising Target Different Genders?' because despite the methodology being sound, it is dated and studies people's interactions with features of websites rather than with adverts.

Moore, D. (2007) ‘Emotion as a Mediator of the Influence of Gender on Advertising Effectiveness: Gender Differences in Online Self-Reports', Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 29(3), pp. 203–211.

Moore, D. (2007)'s study looks at how advertisements that evoke emotion affect the responses of males and females. The study was conducted by showing participants 6 adverts, 3 were considered emotional and 3 were not. Participants would then for each advert, rate how strongly they felt certain given emotions and their desire to help those featured in the emotional adverts. Results showed that women were more affected by emotional adverts, reporting stronger emotions and a stronger desire to help than men. The main issue I find with this research is that it seems to already assume that men are less likely to show emotion than women due to the literature that it analyses at the beginning of the article. Generally, in society it is less accepted for men to display their feelings, with it often being seen as a deviation from social norms when they do. Therefore, the experiment should consider and try and find a way around this, something that other studies may not have considered to do, for example by giving the participants an anonymous questionnaire. However, it instead puts participants into groups of four or five, possibly making it more likely that results would be less accurate, as in a group participants may be affected by social desirability bias and therefore be untruthful in their responses, leading to invalid results. Another issue with the research is that it is very difficult to measure emotions as how people respond and deal with them varies from person to person. Therefore, what one person considers a 7 on the rating scale, another may consider a 4, meaning that the validity of the results is affected. Overall, this article is not useful in determining how adverts can affect different genders.

Shaouf, A., Lü, K. and Li, X. (2016) ‘The Effect of Web Advertising Visual Design On Online Purchase Intention: An Examination Across Gender', Computers in Human Behavior, 60(1), pp. 622–634.

In this study, Shaouf et al. (2016) looks at the way the design of an online advert can affect the viewer's purchase intention and the different effects that it can have on the two genders. The study was conducted by giving participants a questionnaire. The first half had questions to determine the demographics of the participants and their general opinions on online adverts. The second half asked them to recall an online advert that they had recently seen and answer questions regarding their attitudes towards it. Results showed that men's intention to purchase was more likely to be affected by the visual design of the advert than women and men had more positive attitudes to advertising and the brand being advertised. As also seen in Goodrich, K. (2014)'s study, men were more likely to be influenced by graphics than women who were more likely to be attracted to text, rather than the overall aesthetic of the advert. However, this study was not conducted in a controlled environment as participants had a week to complete it in their own time. This could have led to various extraneous variables affecting the responses, for example, some participants may have answered the questionnaire straight after they were given it, and therefore not had the same pressure of time as someone who may have completed the questionnaire 20 minutes before the deadline. This could lead to a discrepancy in the level of thought and detail gone into the answers given by the participants, therefore potentially resulting in invalid results. Despite this, I still believe that this study is useful in answering my question of ‘How Can Online Advertising Target Different Genders?'.

Taylor, D.G., Lewin, J.E. and Strutton, D. (2011) ‘Friends, Fans, And Followers: Do Ads Work On Social Networks? How Gender and Age Shape Receptivity', Journal of Advertising Research, 51(1), pp. 258–275.

Taylor, D.G. et al (2011)'s study explores the different attitudes that men and women have towards advertising on social media. Participants were given a questionnaire in which they would rate on a scale of 1-5, how strongly they agree with statements about adverts on social media based on: informativeness, entertainment, quality of life, attitudes towards social media advertising etc.. The results show that on the whole, both men and women have positive attitudes towards advertising, but it generally tends to be stronger in women. However, men were more likely to engage with the advertisement, possibly with it becoming a part of their social media use as a topic of interest in conversation with friends on social media. The way in which the questionnaire was conducted seems to be reliable as it was easier to answer than the questionnaire in Moore, D. (2007)'s, for example. The scale was only between 1-5 and agreement is easier to generalise than emotion as generally people have the same capacity as each other to agree or disagree with something, unlike emotion. An issue with this study is the biased sample. The participants were associates of the students conducting the research, meaning that they are all likely to hold the same values and beliefs as they are in the same social circles, resulting in a limited range of results. Furthermore, all participants were from a large American metropolitan area. Therefore, the subjects will have been well accustomed to advertising in daily life and as a result, possibly desensitised to it and therefore won't have as strong views on it as someone living in a rural area, for example. However, overall this research is effective in looking at how online advertisements can target and affect different genders.

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