The Consumption of Advertising in the Digital Age: Attention & Ad Content
48 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2020 Last revised: 29 Jul 2022
Date Written: July 28, 2022
This paper studies the consumption of advertising when attention is costly. Our objective is to understand the advertiser’s optimal decision for informational and non-informational content when facing consumers with heavy distractions common in the digital age. We take an equilibrium approach in which an ad is consumed if and only if the content of the ad is worth the viewer’s attention. We classify many advertising decisions observed in practice. First, an advertiser can structure content to induce curiosity for continued viewing by showing the information that is relatively less likely to resonate with the broad audience. This tactic is evident in clickbait ads and “mystery ads”. Second, we find that digital ads, which tend to be skippable, have lower amounts of non-informational content (e.g., entertainment) relative to non-skippable ads. This finding can explain the industry perception that ads on digital media are of lower copy quality than traditional ads.
Keywords: Advertising Content, Attention, Skippable Ads
JEL Classification: M30, M37
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation