Research Proposal: Interactive Advertising

The following is a research proposal for my Theory and Audience Analysis class. 

Title: Interactive Advertising: A Comparison of Advertising on Traditional Television and Online Distribution

Rationale/Motivations: Over the past fifty years, television has been a powerful medium for appealing to mass audiences and providing entertainment, news and information. The traditional television set in the corner of a room or more recently, mounted on the wall, is a familiar sight throughout much of the world. However, this primary way of viewing audio-visual content has seen a shift within the last couple of years and is no longer the sole source. Online television, defined as television service distributed through the Internet, has become very popular during the 21st century. Personally, I made the decision to forgo buying a television and paying a monthly cable subscription this year, because I can easily watch my favorite television shows online. Whether watching Modern Family on or viewing clips of Dancing with the Stars on Hulu, I can stay up to date with television shows at my convenience. Television consumers want television to fit to their schedules and with the ability to watch on a variety of platforms (on their laptop, iPad, mobile phone, etc.). The online medium differs from the traditional ‘lean back’ approach to watching programs and has a more ‘lean forward’ orientation. Instead of relaxing on the sofa with a remote in hand, viewers are using computers, mainly laptops, at a close distance to the screen and the interaction of a mouse and keyboard.

As television viewing shifts to the Internet, advertisers and agencies are questioning whether to spend more money on creative content for online videos over linear advertisements. Linear advertisements are the most established, but least flexible by inserting advertisements on broadcast channels that adhere to a precise broadcast schedule. The Internet allows advertisements, traditionally shown on television, to be delivered in a rich media environment with engaging, interactive material. Even now, most online television viewers can choose which commercial they would like to watch or even give feedback to whether or not the advertisement was relevant to them.

Through secondary research, I hope to answer the following questions:

  1. How has advertising changed with the increased distribution of online television?
  2. Are online forms of advertising as effective as traditional television advertising?
  3. How do consumers respond to the shift of interactive advertising on online models?

The answers to these questions are important in guiding the future efforts of advertisers and where they will spend its economic resources in the future.

Engagement with Social Theory: With online television, since the consumer is expected to be a more active audience, I think the uses and gratification theory works well with this topic.  Blumler and Katz’s uses and gratification theory suggests that media users take an active part in the communication process and are goal-oriented in their media use. They seek out a media source that best fulfills their needs.  Not only are television consumers turning to the Internet on their laptops, iPads, etc. because it is flexible and fits to their schedules, but they are also picking advertising content that they think is relevant to them.

Methods: The principal method of research that will be used are literature reviews of various academic journals, news articles and previous research studies and data collections about the topic.

Outcomes/Novelty: After completing my research, I hope to know how effective interactive commercials and advertising are on online distribution.  Advertisers have been reluctant to put more money into online advertising, but I think more positive research findings can help support the online model.

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