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Multivariate Testing Confirms the Effect of Age–Gender Congruence on Click-Through Rates from Online Social Network Digital Advertisements

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Abstract

A key benefit of web-based technology is the enhanced computational ability to tailor and personalize content using explicit online user profiles. While some degree of customization has long been regarded as positive, too much personalization to the point of perceived privacy intrusion can be detrimental. This study uses multivariate testing of an advertisement campaign on the online social network Facebook to investigate the extent to which digital advertising, personalized to specific age and gender group demographics (age and gender congruent) influences user engagement and increases click-through rates. The study achieved a total of 659,522 impressions (i.e., number of users who were exposed to the personalized advertisements and had the opportunity to engage). Moreover, a total of 1,733 unique clicks were recorded. Using N-1 χ2 testing, this study found that a combined age and gender congruency yielded statistically significantly greater click-through ratios in comparison to noncongruent (nonpersonalized) online advertisements (p < 0.05). As an example, the click-through rates by younger male users increased by over threefold when a young male model appeared in the imagery. The implication is that online content that is personalized to the user's age and gender demographic increases active user engagement.

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... It is unclear, however, whether gender in itself adds to this result. Other studies have also used gender as a personalization element combined with other personalization elements (Brinson and Eastin, 2016;Higgins et al., 2018;Kaspar et al., 2019;Walrave et al., 2016), but do not report whether their manipulation results in differences in perceived personalization perception. Higgins et al. (2018) use age as a separate personalization element, as well as combined with gender. ...
... Other studies have also used gender as a personalization element combined with other personalization elements (Brinson and Eastin, 2016;Higgins et al., 2018;Kaspar et al., 2019;Walrave et al., 2016), but do not report whether their manipulation results in differences in perceived personalization perception. Higgins et al. (2018) use age as a separate personalization element, as well as combined with gender. However, they do not report a manipulation check. ...
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... As more advertisers turn to social media for their affordances related to hypertargeting and segmentation (Alhabash, Mundel, and Hussain 2017), more marketers use demographic criteria (such as age) for targetbased segmentation. A study on interactive ad tailoring based on model/consumer congruence found that online ads featuring endorsers of congruent age and gender to participants produced greater click-through ratios than non-congruent ads (Higgins et al. 2018). ...
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Despite U.S. alcohol industry self-regulatory guidelines prohibiting the use of models under the age 25 in alcohol advertising, brands include younger-looking models in their ads. Using social cognitive theory and the limited capacity model of mediated motivated message processing (LC4MP), we investigated the effects of alcohol ads featuring younger- and older-looking models on underage youths’ affective and cognitive processing and behavioral outcomes. Study 1 participants viewed YouTube ads where models looked either younger or older than 25. In addition to measuring advertising effectiveness self-report measure (e.g. attitudes, and behavioral intentions), participants’ psychophysiological responses were recorded. Study 2 used Instagram ads and measured outcomes with a nationally representative participant sample. Both studies show that younger-looking models in alcohol ads increase drinking intentions. Findings are discussed in relation to alcohol regulatory and policy recommendations as well as advertising’s role in hindering consumer well being.
... This has been explained through the lens of audience segmentation. Since a fit between the intended user represented in an ad and the product advertised has been shown to result stronger evaluations and purchase intentions (Higgins et al. 2018), advertisers have often resorted to making their ads appealing to the mainstream consumer population to maximize profit. Thus, it's been an axiom for advertisers to focus their attention on consumers who are aged 18-49, are married, urban, northern, heterosexual, educated, and employed (Baglia, 2005;Bradley & Longino, 2001;The Wall Street Journal, 2014). ...
Chapter
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... Further, prior research regarding gender congruence effect revealed that male participants clicked on a significantly higher number of online ads with male models compared with those with female models. 31 However, the gender congruence effect was not observed in this study. In addition, anthropomorphism fully mediated the relationship between relationship type and both warmth and pleasure. ...
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