Persuasion in the need of information: Analyzing search engine results page advertisements for low and high involvement products

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School of Business | Master's thesis
International Business Communication
International Business Communication
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Objective of the study The objective of the study was to better understand the advertisements in search engine re-sults pages. Moreover, the research attempted to provide perspectives on what and how adver-tisements communicate to consumers during their purchase process and how this communi-cation has evolved over time. Hence, the main research question was: "How do advertisements differ in the search engine results page for low involvement and high involvement purchase process products?" Methodology and Theoretical Framework More than 340 advertisement texts of 2009 and 2012 were obtained from the Google search results and then analyzed. However, the research is qualitative, but especially explorative by nature. In order to study the differences of advertisement texts, genre analysis was utilized to group the corpus and understand different types and properties of advertisements. High in-volvement and low involvement product purchase processes were found meaningful factors to analyze the advertisements. The study develops and uses a holistic, multidisciplinary frame-work from branches of marketing as advertising, branding and purchase processes, communi-cation and linguistics, information retrieval, and psychology of persuasion, within which the advertisements appearing in search engine results pages are being analyzed. Findings and Conclusion Three search engine advertisement genres were identified in the data analysis: Informative, Advising, and Activating advertisements. To address the main research question, the study shows that the low involvement product related search queries are more likely to be associated with persuasive communication, whereas the high involvement product related queries are more likely to trigger call-to-action messages. The findings suggest that the search engine advertisements are not only informative or classified alike; instead they seem to adapt versatile way of communication, which the trend also emphasizes, despite being limited in the context of a search query. Furthermore, the results seem to indicate that information retrieval that occurs in the Internet search engines is an ideal moment to be exposed to persuasive advertis-ing and that also other than Informative advertisements might be beneficial for the advertiser.
marketing, markkinointi, search engine advertising, advertisement text, genre analysis, advertisement genres, information retrieval, purchase process, search engine marketing, search engine results
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