What's Advertising Content Worth? Evidence from a Consumer Credit Marketing Field Experiment

35 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2009  

Marianne Bertrand

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Dean S. Karlan

Yale University; Innovations for Poverty Action; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Sendhil Mullainathan

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Eldar Shafir

Princeton University

Jonathan Zinman

Dartmouth College; Innovations for Poverty Action; Jameel Poverty Action Lab; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: January 23, 2009

Abstract

Firms spend billions of dollars each year advertising consumer products in order to influence demand. Much of these outlays are on the creative design of advertising content. Creative content often uses nuances of presentation and framing that have large effects on consumer decision making in laboratory studies. But there is little field evidence on the effect of advertising content as it compares in magnitude to the effect of price. We analyze a direct mail field experiment in South Africa implemented by a consumer lender that randomized creative content and loan price simultaneously. We find that content has significant effects on demand. There is also some evidence that the magnitude of content sensitivity is large relative to price sensitivity. However, it was difficult to predict which particular types of content would significantly impact demand. This fits with a central premise of psychology - context matters - and highlights the importance of testing the robustness of laboratory findings in the field.

Keywords: economics of advertising, economics & psychology, behavioral economics, cues, microfinance

JEL Classification: D01, M31, M37, C93, D12, D14, D21, D81, D91, O12

Suggested Citation

Bertrand, Marianne and Karlan, Dean S. and Mullainathan, Sendhil and Shafir, Eldar and Zinman, Jonathan, What's Advertising Content Worth? Evidence from a Consumer Credit Marketing Field Experiment (January 23, 2009). Yale University Economic Growth Center Discussion Paper No. 968; Yale Economics Department Working Paper No. 58. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1332007

Marianne Bertrand

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-834-5943 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://gsbwww.uchicago.edu/fac/marianne.bertrand/vita/cv_0604.pdf

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-588-0341 (Phone)
617-876-2742 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

Dean S. Karlan (Contact Author)

Yale University ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, CT 06520-8269
United States

Innovations for Poverty Action ( email )

1731 Connecticut Ave, 4th floor
New Haven, CT 20009
United States

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab ( email )

E60-246
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

Sendhil Mullainathan

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2720 (Phone)
617-495-7730 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-588-1473 (Phone)
617-876-2742 (Fax)

Eldar Shafir

Princeton University ( email )

22 Chambers Street
Princeton, NJ 08544
United States

Jonathan Zinman

Dartmouth College ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603-646-0075 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~jzinman/

Innovations for Poverty Action

1731 Connecticut Ave, 4th floor
New Haven, CT 20009
United States

Jameel Poverty Action Lab

E60-246
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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