Forced Attention in the Field: Combining Choices and Response Times for Mobile Advertisements
35 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2018 Last revised: 8 Aug 2019
Date Written: January 14, 2019
We study how choice and response time data from the field can be combined to estimate the effectiveness of manipulating attention to advertisements. We utilize the class of drift-diffusion models — originally developed in psychology and neuroeconomics to jointly explain subjects’ choices and response times in laboratory experiments — to model users’ responses to video advertisements on mobile devices. The combination of response time with choice data allows separate identification of the diffusion processes characterizing users’ preferences when the ad is playing, as well as when users face a subsequent decision to click-through on the ad. Our estimates identify two segments of users that also exhibit distinct out-of-sample behaviour including app engagement and purchasing. Counterfactual simulations utilizing our estimates predict that ads with a 5 second duration yield roughly the same revenue as forcing a user to view the entire thirty-second ad, thus rationalizing the practice of some platforms (e.g. YouTube) where users can skip an ad after 5 seconds.
Keywords: mobile advertising, drift-diffusion model, response times, skippable ads, bounded accumulation models
JEL Classification: L81, M37, D03, D83, D87, C15, C22
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