This chapter deals the research method used in this thesis in relation to the research approach, research de-sign, secondary and primary data collection and interviews. Moreover, the discussion in this chapter also con-tains topics such as validity, reliability, trustworthiness and generalizability of the findings generated by the research. The methodology chapter concludes with a presentation of the limitations of the present study.
The research approach
The aim of this study is to investigate the attitudes toward display advertising among Face-book users. More specifically, the thesis focuses on the factors influencing both the atti-tudes and the behavior manifested by users. As presented in the methodology literature, there are different ways of approaching a research study: either inductively, deductively or thirdly through a combination of the two previously mentioned which is by some authors called abduction (Alvesson & Sköldberg 1994; Kirkeby, 1990; Ezzy, 2002).
Deduction starts from the facts that are already known and continues with testing the an-ticipated phenomena. The starting point is as such the theories developed in relation to the topic of interest that guides the researcher in the inquiry process (Malhotra & Birks, 2007). The deductive process relies on the development of hypotheses that are derived from the studied theory which tests the relationships between the studied concepts and the formu-lated a conclusion made from the findings. Starting from a different perspective, induction deals more with the observation of the facts and is concerned with the context in which events are taking place. The purpose is to develop an understanding of the way humans in-terpret their social world in order to afterwards develop a theoretical framework (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill, 2009). The two methods are not mutually exclusive and they can be used in combination which is also the case with the present thesis which cannot be defined as being absolutely deductive or purely inductive. The empirical data is the starting point in the abductive approach as in the case of induction. However, the difference lies in the ac-ceptance of theoretical concepts prior to the investigation or during the collection of em-pirical data (Alvesson & Sköldberg 1994).
Given that the study is concerned with the factors influencing the attitudes and behaviors toward display advertising on Facebook, it starts with a deductive approach through the in-sertion of relevant models that outline the factors influencing attitude-toward-the-ad. Through these two models presented in the literature review chapter, attitude-toward-the-ad model (Lutz & MacKenzie, 1989) and attitude toward advertising (Ducoffe, 1996) the framework for the empirical data collection was created. Thus, the theory is not tested but simply used for guidance when conducting the interviews in order to uncover the respond-ents’ perspective. The thesis is further inductive in its approach as the purpose is to under-stand the way that the respondents interpret the display advertisements on Facebook. As such, the present study adopts an abductive approach.
The purpose of a research is often defined by the research questions and the research ob-jectives (Saunders et al., 2009). The purpose of a study may be classified as either explorato-ry which can be studied either qualitatively or quantitatively or conclusive (Malhotra et al., 2007), which can either be descriptive or explanatory (Saunders et al., 2009).
The design of the study developed in this thesis can be described as exploratory with a qualitative research method approach incorporated with explanatory and descriptive ele-ments. When there is a need to clarify the nature of a problem and gain more knowledge about it, an exploratory research is suitable (Saunders et al., 2009). The research is further classified as being exploratory as the research has been conducted in a flexible manner. This was done in order to understand how users feel, think and act in relation to display advertising on Facebook which is a phenomenon that is difficult to understand and where little information is available. These reasons have been identified by different authors as suitable for an exploratory study (Malhotra et al., 2007; Polonsky & Waller, 2005; Cooper & Schindler, 2006).
The research is considered to be descriptive if presentation of the actual facts or situations is developed. Further in this thesis, the gathered data is presented in a logical and struc-tured manner in the findings chapter in order for the reader to understand the information provided by the respondents. This makes it descriptive in nature. The analysis chapter is explanatory as it concentrates more on showing how the different factors mentioned by the respondents are affecting the overall attitude and behavior toward display advertising on Facebook. As mentioned by (Zikmund, 2000; Saunders et al., 2009), the relation between differed variables that a study might evaluate is treated under explanatory research
As argued by Silverman (2010), the choice between qualitative and quantitative research method should be made by considering the specificity of the task on hand. The same au-thor pleads for the use of qualitative methods when people’s behavior is investigated. As the present thesis deals with the factors influencing attitudes and partly with people’s be-havior toward display advertising, the direction of the research method is clearly toward a qualitative approach. Furthermore, both the research approach – abduction and the re-search purpose with its exploratory nature adopted in this thesis are positively oriented to-ward a qualitative research method approach (Cooper & Schindler, 2006). Qualitative re-search is concerned with how the social world is experienced and interpreted (Mason, 2002). As this thesis is about investigating the factors influencing the attitudes toward dis-play advertising on Facebook, which is a social digital world, a qualitative research method has been considered appropriate.
The present qualitative research concentrates on the point of view of the research partici-pants, which are the users of Facebook. The aim of the research method was to place the respondents in a real world setting (Patton, 2002) which in the present case meant the main page on Facebook. As the present research is inspired from the theoretical concept of atti-tude-toward-the-ad which requires the evaluation of advertisements in the actual visualiza-tion moment, it was necessary for the authors to sit down with the respondent during the actual observation of the display advertisements on Facebook. The qualitative approach of-fers the researcher the possibility to investigate in-depth the factors influencing the atti-tudes that users have toward the ads displayed on Facebook, as this thesis was not started by making any assumptions in regards to these factors (Daymon & Holloway,2002; Silver-man, 2010). As Cooper and Schindler (2006) writes, the aim of the qualitative research is to interpret, to build an understanding of something that happens and not to prove a spe-cific theory. The findings have not been produced for the purpose of quantifying the in-formation (Strauss & Corbin, 1990) but for the purpose of evaluating the answers that people have provided and the actions that were taken when observing the banners on Fa-cebook. This was done in order to identify patterns through the process of documentations and further through the analysis of the gathered data. Numbers have been used only in or-der to differentiate the main opinions from other less emphasized findings.
The time horizon of the research is also an important aspect that researchers have defined. According to Saunders et al. (2009), in terms of the time dedicated to the research, the study can be either cross-sectional or longitudinal. The cross-sectional studies are con-cerned with understanding how a particular phenomenon is defined at a specific moment in time. On the other hand, a longitudinal study is oriented toward capturing the changes that a phenomenon suffers over time. In terms of the time horizon of the present research, the study is considered to be a cross-sectional study, since the attitudes of the respondents and the reasons behind them are studied at a specific moment in time, during the interview moment.
The present thesis is going to rely on both types of data collection methods that are availa-ble, namely primary data and secondary data. These two methods have been clearly defined based on the functions that they fulfill. Data that is being collected with the purpose of an-swering the specific purpose of the study through techniques such as interviews, observa-tions or experiments is called primary data. On the other hand, data that has been used in previous studies or elaborated by the findings of previous studies is called secondary data (Malhotra et al., 2007).
Primary data collection
There are four major methods of gathering qualitative data: observations, analyzing texts and documents, interviews and focus groups, audio and video recording (Silverman, 2006). For the purposes of this thesis, the interview method was found to be the most suitable al-ternative combined with an audio recording of the whole process. Both the data collection and the analysis have been characterized by flexibility and did not follow a strict theoretical pattern (Daymon & Holloway, 2002). Direct observation is an alternative method when studying users that can be used when there is a need to research specific individual activi-ties. First hand observations would however be impossible to conduct is this scenario as observations alone would not permit an understanding of the user’s attitudes or the factors that are influencing them. The authors also considered gathering the empirical data through diaries where participants are required to fill in information related to the topic investigat-ed. This is a method that is used when studying people in a personal environment (Rieman, 1993) without being too intrusive (Bloor & Wood, 2006). Moreover, several authors have opted for the use of this method when conducting exploratory research in a social medium (Rieman, 1993; Lee, Kim & Kim, 2009; Ryan & Valverde, 2006). The optimal period of collecting data through diaries is seven days (Bloor & Wood, 2006). This approach was however not viable as the potential participants thought that the seven days participation period was hard to accommodate in their busy academic schedule. Owing to the facts pre-sented above, the interview method has been found to be the best fit for this study.
When choosing the research method, the researchers have the possibility to use either a single data collection method or a single analysis procedure also called mono method or to employ several data collection methods and consequently different analysis procedures called multiple methods (Saunders et al., 2009).
For the purpose of this thesis, only a single data collection method was used as all the data was collected through the semi-structured interviews.
Interviews have been defined as a purposeful discussion held between two or more people (Saunders et al., 2009). Interviews are used as a data collection method that helps the re-searcher to gather data based on a list of prior defined questions in order to respond to the main research questions and fulfill the object of the study (Saunders et al., 2009). For the purpose of the present thesis it has been considered appropriate to use semi-structured in-terviews which are a set of questions and themes that the researcher planed to discuss with the participants, but in a flexible way by adapting them to each interview case based on the provided answers (Saunders et al., 2009). This type of data collection method has been cho-sen for several reasons. First of all, the research method employed is qualitative which fits well with the held consideration that semi-structured interviews are the most used type of interviews in exploratory and qualitative research (Morse & Richardson, 2002 & Saunders et al., 2009). Secondly, “what”, “how” and “why” questions that are associated with semi-structured interview questions are employed throughout the formulation of the present in-terview questions as well (Saunders et al, 2009).
Several authors have pointed out that conducting interviews is not an easy task and the pri-or experience and formed skills of the interviewers could make the difference between a good and a bad interview (Saunders et al., 2009; Morse & Richards, 2002). The authors of this thesis are not experienced moderators but have strived to overcome each of the obsta-cles by carefully preparing in advance for the meetings with the responds. One valuable in-sight offered by Morse and Richards (2002) is namely to be a good listener has been taken into consideration and been applied thoroughly throughout all the interview sessions. A good listener is both passive and interactive meaning being interested enough in the con-versation in order to make the appropriate comments and help the respondents when in difficulty in order to keep the conversation going, but at the same time not interrupts the flow of thought of the participant. This was applied by the interviewers as thoroughly as possible when conducting the interviews. Further, according to Saunders et al. (2009), choosing an appropriate location for conducting the interviews is further vital for success-ful results, since it might influence the data offered by the respondents. As such, the major-ity of the interviews have been conducted at the university due to the fact that it is a com-fortable, familiar and an easily accessible medium for the responds. More specifically, the study rooms in the Library building have been used due their privacy and noise isolation characteristics.
Prior research on literature concerning attitudinal studies was conducted in order to devel-op a better understanding of the topic. The theoretical findings were used for guidance in terms of providing a foundation of the main factors that influence attitudes. Through these factors, relevant questions were developed and used in the interviews in order to under-stand user’s attitudes (see appendix 2). These questions were organized in three different sections for both logical purposes and practical requirements. The first section was com-prised of general questions which requested information about knowledge, general attitude and behavior toward the display advertising on Facebook. This part of the section was based purely on the memory of the respondents. The following part of the interview tested particular attitudes and particular factors that might affect them in relation to specific ad-vertisements that were displayed on the users’ Facebook page. The interviews were final-ized with two broader questions which asked for an evaluation of their attitudes and the most important factors influencing those attitudes. In total 20 open ended questions were created. Further, a probing set of questions were developed separately from the interview questions that were provided to the participants with the aim of assisting the authors ex-plore different answers.
According to Saunders et al. (2009), an interview should make the participants state what they think, feel, know and have previously behaved in regards to the topic. For this reason, the participants were encouraged to speak freely and expand both in regards to the frame-work of questions that was provided, but also on other aspects of display advertising if there was a desire to do so. At the end each interview, the participants were asked to pro-vide a feedback to the interviewer regarding the level of understanding of the questions and the manner in which the interview took place. All respondents provided a positive feed-back. They mentioned that they understood all the questions and were able to answer without difficulties. They also appreciated the attention of the interviewers and the fact that some questions where skipped when the topic had already touched upon in a previous question.
The data used in this thesis was gathered during the month of April 2012 in Jönköping, Sweden. In total, 20 students were interviewed. Information about the interviews and the respondents that have been interviewed can be found in appendix 1. The interviews were conducted on a one-to-one basis between a single researcher and a single participant. There are several ways in which such interviews can be handled, face-to-face, by telephone or by Internet. For the present study, the face-to-face method has been employed. Since the in-terviews were semi-structured and the prepared questions had been defined by both co-researchers it was considered appropriate to conduct the interviews separately. Each re-searcher conducted ten interviews each using the same template of questions that is pre-sented in appendix 2. This approach is favored by Morse and Richards (2002) who state that if the research design does not restrict it in anyway, the interviews should be conduct-ed on a one-to-one basis in a private setting. Moreover, the authors made sure to gather a significant number of interviews in order increase the reliability and ensure that a consider-able amount of data material was available for the analysis.
When conducting the interviews the participants were recorded through the use of a com-puter. Permission for recording was asked from all of the participants. The interviews start-ed with a brief presentation of the topic and the overall framework of the interview. The participants were told that the first part was more general in its nature and that the second part of the interview had a practical side and that they would be asked to answer questions about the specific ads that were displayed on their Facebook page. All of them agreed to use their personal accounts on Facebook. Throughout the duration of the whole interview, the participants had in front of them a sheet with the questions that were being discussed. English was the language used while conducting the interviews. Incentives in the form of cookies, coffee and tea were offered to each participant. The interviews lasted between 15 and 45 minutes, which accounted for a total of 500 minutes of audio data. The audio files have been transcribed by the researchers and a total of 30 pages of written data were gener-ated. The data that was gathered was already partially categorized in the transcription pro-cess as the questions that were asked to the respondents were logically arranged according the theoretical background before the interviews.
The choice of respondents
The population of interest for this research has been people between the ages of 18 and 34 as this age group is indicated as having the most active participants on Facebook according to Taylor, Lewin and Strutton (2011). The criteria’s that were requested in order to partici-pate in the interviews was that the individual spoke Swedish and had a Facebook account that they used on a regular basis. These requirements were necessary as the present study is concerned with advertising that was displayed in Swedish. The respondents have thus been selected based on the above mentioned criteria’s.
There are two general techniques in which sampling procedures could be categories and these are probability and non-probability sampling. In non-probability sampling techniques the personal judgment of the researcher plays a key role in selecting the sample elements. On the contrary, in the probability sampling technique, chance plays a more important role, as each element of the population could be chosen as part of the sample to be studied (Malhotra et al. , 2007). For the present thesis a non-probability technique has been used in order to select the sample. There are several procedures of selecting a sample in a non-probabilistic manner. In the present thesis a combination of convenience and snowballing sampling techniques has been used (Malhotra et al., 2007). More specifically, the sample was formed of students as they are easy to reach at the university campus during most days of the week. Consequently, the snowball sampling technique has been employed. In the snowball techniques as explained by Malhotra et al. (2007), the respondents that have been selected initially are asked to refer to other people that could participate in the study. After interviewing several people we asked them to point out to other people that they consid-ered suitable for this specific study and that fulfilled the requirements.
The secondary data collection
Secondary data has both advantages and disadvantages which have be analyzed and evalu-ated before choosing the materials to be used in the present thesis. The large amount of da-ta and the easiness of its accessibility make it attractive for researchers. Nevertheless, it should also be kept in mind that these data has been gathered for a different purpose and fits the requirements of those specific studies and will never be found as a perfect match for future studies. This phenomenon could be explained by the incompatibility between the measurement techniques used, the time frame when the data was collected and variation between terms in the research (Zikmund, 2000). Consequently, particular attention has been dedicated to the type of secondary data to be used. The most reliable data related to the topic has been included and when feasible adjustments have been made in order to fit the present study.
In order to gather the secondary data for the present thesis the resources available from the school library have mainly been used. The used materials have been found both in elec-tronic and paper format. Books and articles have been reviewed. The articles collected have been mainly academic articles, gathered from different well known journals on the topic of advertising and consumer behavior. Particular attention has been dedicated to the credibil-ity of the sources. Non-academic material has been used as well since academic infor-mation connected with social networking sites is still limited. Nevertheless this was done only to a smaller extent.
1.2 Problem discussion
1.4 Research questions
2 Literature review
2.1 Advertising and the role of advertising in the marketing mix
2.2 Internet advertising
2.3 Push based marketing and banners
2.4 Social media and social networking sites
2.5 Attitudes toward advertising
2.6 Approaches to studying attitudes toward advertising
2.7 Attitude-toward-the-ad model
2.8 Factors influencing attitude-toward-the-ad
2.9 Attitude toward advertising model
2.10 Factors influencing the attitude toward advertising.
2.11 Behavior toward display advertising
3.1 The research approach
3.2 Research purpose
3.3 Research method
3.5 Data collection
3.6 Validity, reliability, trustworthiness and generalizability
3.7 Ethical considerations
4 Presentation of empirical findings
4.2 Facebook users and display advertising
4.3 Attitudes toward display advertising
4.4 Factors influencing attitudes
4.5 Behavior toward display advertising on Facebook
4.6 Influential factors affecting the attitude
5 Analysis of the empirical findings
5.1 Facebook and display advertising
5.2 Attitudes toward display advertising
5.3 Factors influencing the attitude
5.4 Main factors influencing the attitude-toward-the-ad
5.5 Behavior toward display advertising on Facebook
5.6 Conclusions of the analysis
List of references
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