Inferno: A Guide to Field Experiments in Online Display Advertising

43 Pages Posted: 15 May 2020 Last revised: 20 Jul 2021

Date Written: July 19, 2021

Abstract

Online display advertising is a hostile medium for field experiments. Display ad effects are tiny and necessitate large-scale experiments. The experimenter has limited control because ad exposure is jointly determined by advertisers, users, algorithms, and market competition. As such, online display ads provide useful lessons for experimenters at the frontier of digital research more generally. Display-ad experiments place renewed focus on old topics like statistical power and compliance as well as on new issues like identity fragmentation and market spillovers. In this guide, we review these challenges, best practices, and new developments.

Keywords: field experiments, advertising effectiveness, digital advertising

JEL Classification: C93, M37

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Garrett, Inferno: A Guide to Field Experiments in Online Display Advertising (July 19, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3581396 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3581396

Garrett Johnson (Contact Author)

Questrom School of Business ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
6173534677 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.bu.edu/questrom/faculty-research/faculty-directory/garrett-johnson/

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