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1.1 Background of the Study
According to Kleppner (cited in Okpoko, 2008, p.7), the practice of advertising is as old as man. The urge to advertise seems to be part of human nature. The oldest method of advertising is by town crying. It became the earliest medium of announcement in England in 1100AD. William Caxton, an early English printer made advertising history in 1478 when he printed a handbill now regarded as the first known printed English advertisement, which advertised the book he had printed (Kleppner, 2002, cited in Okpoko, 2008).
Wilson (2000) (cited in Odunze, 2013, p.2) states that advertising is an ancient activity that has been traced to have began since through the word of mouth to persuade people, which is the major (and still known as the most powerful) form of persuasion in advertising. Advertising has been in existence since humans began to provide each other with goods and services. Advertising as an individual form is generally accepted to have started since the advent of newspapers in the 17th century.
The advent of advertisement dates back to the old times. To persuade product users, societies make use of pictorial signs and symbols. For centuries, these main elements were basically used to promote products. Also, Belch (1998) and Aaker (1991) (cited in Ma and Liu, 2010) records that, for many decades, advertising has been in existence. It is the only means of relating to a promotion mix that has its final function to set up channels of information and make people to sell goods and services or promote an idea by persuasion. Due to the importance of advertising, persuasion is considered to be one of the most effective communication tools in marketing. In the world’s convoluted society, both customers and businesses are connected due to the significant communication system advertising has developed into.
Abideen and Latif, 2011 (cited in Abideen & Saleem, 2011) records that nearly everyone grows up in the globe which is filled with the mass media, for example television, videos, music, billboards, magazines, newspapers, internet, and advertising. When it comes to advertising, all media affect audiences, but that of the internet is regarded as one of the strongest media of advertising due to the number of people it can reach and persuade. But in today’s environment, online advertising happen to be one of the most important sources of communicational instrument between the manufacturer of a product and the consumer of the product (Abideen & Saleem, 2011). Furthermore, Katke, 2007 (cited in Abideen & Saleem, 2011), states that as a promotional technique, online advertising serves as a basic tool for drawing the attention of potential consumers to take eventual purchase decision.
Advertising on the web (since 1994) is known as one of the efficient and effective means of marketing and advertising due to its global visibility, low-cost, effective performance tracking and measurement. In an article published in New York’s PR-Newswire on August 9th, 2001, $906.4 million was spent on online advertising in the U.S in 1997, and the top five web sites data released by the Jupiter Online Advertisement Forum shows that the sites (MSN, Yahoo, iWon, Excite, and Netscape) made close to 10 billion U.S. Dollars from online advertisement at mid-2001 (Gao, Sheng, & Chang, 2012).
According to Belch and Belch (1998) (cited in Ma & Liu, 2010),the different traditional mass media that have the ability to convey or disseminate advertising communication include TV broadcasting, newspapers and magazines. Hamill (1997) (cited in Ma & Liu, 2010, p. 6) also states that the Internet is the latest medium for businesses, which has brought about the growth and development of enterprises mainly by providing a new living space. Lavidge and Steiner, 1996 (cited in Ma & Liu, 2010) records that online advertising has been considered to be an investment in a long term process, when it comes to the effects of advertising.
Tavor, (2011, p. 121) records that the Internet has turned into a major source of consuming information, and to some level, has changed old media i.e., the television, the newspaper and the radio. The commonest ways people use the internet are mainly for searching through recent information and data, and for purchasing products and services because of its mass availability. Luk, Chan, and Li (cited in Tavor, 2011, p. 121) state that online advertising helps to sell products and services through interactive and colourful catalogues and makes audience have recent and available information. It also enables them to purchase both international and local products. The ability for internet users to interact with a company’s website makes their purchasing decision more efficient, because the website can provide more complete information on the product line than other media tools which will eventually persuade them to purchase it.
Prabhakar and Alwitt (1989) (cited in Schlosser, Shavitt, & Kanfer, 1990) state that the determination of how online advertisement persuade Internet users has been regarded important to trace because it likely affects consumers’ attention, reaction, and exposure to individual ads done through a variety of intellectual and emotional processes.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
It is very obvious that the internet as an information superhighway has empowered many platforms where internet users interact and share ideas. Nowadays, some platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or online forum have made it widely possible for anybody to advertise any product online. So, the problem here is how do we trust those who are advertising products online and how can we know the reliability of the products?
Most at times, internet users found some of the advertised products as scams and frauds. Another problem with online advertising is the lack of physical touch of the products advertised and lack of physical contact with the advertisers to ask further questions. It is also an issue with online advertising that some internet users do not have the required skills to navigate through the pages of the web to actually know what the online advertisement is all about. Incompetence and unprofessional skills of advertisers is another problem with online advertising. Internet users are the people to patronize a product or services, but if the manner in which the products are advertised is not eye-catching to the internet users in terms of interface and persuasion terms used, the online advertiser will end up not gaining the interest of the users. Bearing in mind the problems stated above, are internet users still persuaded by online advertisements?
1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The aim of this study is to determine whether online advertisements persuade internet users in Minna, Niger State to purchase advertised products. The objectives are to:
1. Determine whether internet users in Minna, Niger State are exposed to online advertisement.
2. Find out the reaction of internet users in Minna towards online advertisements.
3. Determine whether internet users in Minna, Niger State are persuaded by online advertisements.
1.4 Research Questions
1. Are internet users in Minna, Niger State exposed to online advertisements?
2. What are the reactions of internet users in Minna towards online advertisements?
3. Are internet users in Minna, Niger State persuaded by online advertisements?
1.5 Justification of the Study
This study is embarked upon to give explanation whether online advertisements persuade internet users in Minna to purchase goods and services.
1. This study will enable online advertisers to know if their advertisements persuade internet users.
2. The study will enable online advertisers to package their web content appropriately in order to achieve their advertising objectives.
3. It will help internet users to gain knowledge on how online advertisements persuade them to purchase their products.
4. It will serve as a base for future research work on a similar topic.
1.6 Delimitation of the Study
This research work is based on the persuasibility of online advertisements among internet users in Minna, Niger State. The study focuses on internet users because people who are exposed to the internet are the major audiences of online advertisements. Studying all the States in Nigeria will be too broad as a topic. Since Niger is one of the states in Nigeria, internet users in the capital city (Minna) will be sampled and the result will be used to generalize.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
Ad Server: This is the technology and service that is used by online advertisers to place advertisements on a web site.
Advertisement: This is the structured and composed non personal communication information, usually paid for and usually persuasive in nature, about products, goods and services, and ideas, by identified sponsors.
Advertisers: In this research, advertisers refer to the department of advertising companies, which produces products and services and place them online.
Internet Users: They are people who have access to the internet in Minna, Niger State.
Online Advertisements: They are types of advertisements that are basically done with the use of Internet connection to convey promotional marketing messages to consumers.
Persuasibility: This means the ability of online advertiser to persuade internet users into purchasing products and services advertised online.