AbstractsBusiness Management & Administration

Three Essays on Analyzing and Managing Online Consumer Behavior

by Eva Anderl

Institution: Universität Passau
Department: Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät
Degree: PhD
Year: 2014
Record ID: 1105757
Full text PDF: https://opus4.kobv.de/opus4-uni-passau/frontdoor/index/index/docId/228


Over the last two decades, the Internet has fundamentally changed the ways firms and consumers interact. The ongoing evolution of the Internet-enabled market environment entails new challenges for marketing research and practice, including the emergence of innovative business models, a proliferation of marketing channels, and an unknown wealth of data. This dissertation addresses these issues in three individual essays. Study 1 focuses on business models offering services for free, which have become increasingly prevalent in the online sector. Offering services for free raises new questions for service providers as well as marketing researchers: How do customers of free e-services contribute value without paying? What are the nature and dynamics of nonmonetary value contributions by nonpaying customers? Based on a literature review and depth interviews with senior executives of free e-service providers, Study 1 presents a comprehensive overview of nonmonetary value contributions in the free e-service sector, including not only word of mouth, co-production, and network effects but also attention and data as two new dimensions, which have been disregarded in marketing research. By putting their findings in the context of existing literature on customer value and customer engagement, the authors do not only shed light on the complex processes of value creation in the emerging e-service industry but also advance marketing and service research in general. Studies 2 and 3 investigate the analysis of online multichannel consumer behavior in times of big data. Firms can choose from a plethora of channels to reach consumers on the Internet, such that consumers often use a number of different channels along the customer journey. While the unprecedented availability of individual-level data enables new insights into multichannel consumer behavior, it also makes high demands on the efficiency and scalability of research approaches. Study 2 addresses the challenge of attributing credit to different channels along the customer journey. Because advertisers often do not know to what degree each channel actually contributes to their marketing success, this attribution challenge is of great managerial interest, yet academic approaches to it have not found wide application in practice. To increase practical acceptance, Study 2 introduces a graph-based framework to analyze multichannel online customer path data as first- and higher-order Markov walks. According to a comprehensive set of criteria for attribution models, embracing both scientific rigor and practical applicability, four model variations are evaluated on four, large, real-world data sets from different industries. Results indicate substantial differences to existing heuristics such as “last click wins” and demonstrate that insights into channel effectiveness cannot be generalized from single data sets. The proposed framework offers support to practitioners by facilitating objective budget allocation and improving team decisions and allows for future applications such as…