The medium is the message, or is it? : A quantitative study of media users’ attitudes towards advertising online and offline

University essay from Karlstads universitet; Karlstads universitet

Abstract: Media usage, as well as media advertising, is growing in tandem with each other. Media users will, regardless of which medium that is in use, encounter a considerable amount of advertising. As we are moving towards a more digitized world, and also a more digitized media sphere, a new communication landscape has been formed. The digitalization has provided new ways to communicate and also new ways to advertise. Now there is not only possible to advertise through traditional offline media channels, such as radio and television, but also possible to advertise through online media, such as Facebook and Instagram. Personalized advertising is an advertising format which has evolved with the growth of online advertising and the ability to collect media users’ data online. Personalized advertisements are formed to comply with the media users’ preferences and have been proven to be effective and in some cases appreciated. Though, this form of advertisements has brought up concerns regarding the media users’ integrity online and previous research does, therefore, claim that personalized advertising is a paradox. Furthermore, a question that can be asked regarding advertising and the new communication landscape that has emerged is: what can be said about media users’ attitudes towards advertising online compared to advertising offline? The purpose of this study is to examine media users’ attitudes towards advertising online, compared to attitudes towards advertising offline, and further investigate whether the mediums themselves seem to have an impact on the receiver’s attitudes towards advertising. The study’s three research questions compose the structure which is followed throughout the study. Furthermore, to answer the research questions, a survey has been implemented. The survey intended to investigate media users’ attitudes towards advertisements online and offline. The theories the study is based on are Marshall McLuhan’s theory The Medium is the Message, The advertising value model by Ducoffe and Personalization. Based on the study’s theory and theoretical framework, the result was analyzed and discussed. The result of the study shows that media users’ attitudes towards advertising are overall rather similar, regardless of age, gender and political position. Further, a pattern that shows connections between media users’ self-reported awareness, their consent of data collection and their appreciation of personalized advertising online was found. The study further examines differences between attitudes towards different mediums, however, we can conclude that the mediums themselves have been proven to not be determinant in media users’ attitudes towards advertising - the experiences of advertising are rather negative regardless of where the media user encounters them. This study contributes with information and insight regarding media users’ attitudes towards advertising in different mediums, further, how media users stand regarding online privacy and concession with data collection in relation to their attitudes towards personalized advertising.

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