Examining Search as Opposed to Experience Goods when Investigating Synergies of Internet News Articles and Banner Ads

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the applicability of the economics of information-driven product categorization – search vs. experience products – when investigating online brand advertising and news synergies.
Design/methodology/approach: Randomized controlled post-test experiment with over 400 participants in three treatment groups involving exposures to paid advertising (banner ad-plus-banner ad) and publicity (news article-plus-banner ad and banner ad-plus-news article) for four products. Questionnaire upon web site exit tested differences in brand attitudes among treatment groups and product categories.

Findings: Findings indicate that including news about the brand in the online brand communication mix – either before or after ads – generates higher brand attitude scores for experience products. For search products sequence matters and brand attitudes are more positive when consumers are exposed to news articles first followed by advertisements.

Research limitations/implications: Findings limited to the four product categories and student participants.

Practical implications: When promoting search goods online, brand managers should include publicity only before display advertising efforts. For experience goods, publicity generates higher brand attitude scores when included either before or while running display advertising.

Originality/value: First study examining online publicity and advertising synergies from an economics of information theory perspective separating search from experience goods when promoting new/unknown brands online. In the online environment, the line between journalistic/news and promotional/advertising text-based content has become increasingly blurred. Compared to paid online advertising, using third-party attributed communications sources like publicity increases message credibility. Adding product-related news and blog articles to banner advertisements may benefit from synergistic effects and have consumers process the brand message more extensively. The order of exposure to the different brand messages matters when promoting search as opposed to experience products online.