Who does What on the internet – A comprehensive analysis.

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A correlation between the internet advertising motives and online crowd’s involvement
This a comprehensive research and was published as a part of journal article, for UK Universities. This article analyses and lists what users of different demography, age and educational and professional background uses the internet for and what is their ‘idea of involvement’. This data was collected for a crowdsourcing model (Note: Internet is also a high level crowdsourced model) for the internet industries, to be used for advertising purposes.

Advertising industry has seen eras of changes, since advertising has been coined. Crowdsourcing is a new concept, founded in 2006, that uses the power of crowd to create and edit values, products and more. Advertising industry (especially on the internet, here and after referred to as ‘online’) has tried to infuse with this concept for creating advertising campaigns. This study analyses if the level of involvement and the motivation factors associated with Crowdsourcing have any effect on the level of participation of the crowd in Crowdsourcing campaigns and its co-relation with the strategic motives of the advertising industry.

The study is conducted by a cross-comparison of the high and low involvement Crowdsourcing models with the crowd of varied demography, to determine any similarities or trends between the factors involved. This study adopts a positivism philosophy and a deductive approach. The survey strategy is used in data collection and an online close ended questionnaire is used as a tool to achieve the same. Data analysis suggests that younger crowd prefer to participate in low involvement models and vice versa. The participation level varies inversely to the educational and professional level of the crowd and the prime motivator for the crowd to stay active in these campaigns is monetary compensation. The limitation of this study is that the survey is limited to few countries and to a limited age range, which formed the recommendation that the untapped countries and age group can be surveyed to further the study.

Chapter 1.  Research Methodology

The undertaking of this research study to find answers to the research questions, is being undertaken within a framework of a set of philosophies, approaches, uses procedures, methods and techniques that have been tested for their validity and reliability; and it is designed to be unbiased and objective.

1.1.  Philosophy
This section provides with a brief discussion of the philosophies of positivism, realism and interpretivism in relation to research methodology used for this research. The philosophy of positivism is used for this study, however other philosophies are also discussed to point out the reason why they were not chosen to be used for this study.

1.1.1.  Positivism
This research will reflect the philosophy of positivism. This philosophy provides a framework for the way research is conducted in the natural science and the scientific methods are still widely used in social science research today. Positivism is underpinned by the belief that the reality is independent of us and the goal is the discovery of theories, based on empirical research (Collis and Hussey, 2009). Knowledge is derived from ‘positive information’ because ‘every rationally justifiable assertion can be scientifically verified or is capable of logical or mathematical proof’ (Walliman, 2001: 15)

This business research under the paradigm that stems from positivism focuses on theories to explain and predict the social phenomena. As Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2007) states, in this research only phenomena that could be observed have led to the production of credible data. Crowdsourcing and its use in the advertising industry did not have a lot of direct literature and hence the process of getting answers to the research questions was a funnel-down process; Which means that the existing literature on Crowdsourcing, advertising and company examples were used and then were critically analysed to get the relation between them. The use of existing theories to find answers, falls under positivism philosophy (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2007).

1.1.2.  Realism:
Realism philosophy is also an important philosophy that is based on the interdependency of human values and beliefs. This research philosophy focuses on the beliefs that really exist in the environment. This research philosophy believes in the existence of external and objective reality that influences people’s social interpretations and behaviour. However, Crowdsourcing is a relatively new topic and very few empirical research with the realism philosophy have been done. Hence this philosophy was not considered as the appropriate philosophy.

1.1.3.  Interpretivism:
The interpretive philosophy believes that the social world of management and business is too complex as to be formulated in theories and laws such as in the natural science. Interpretive philosophy represents the critical thinking about positivism philosophy. According to this philosophy, there are many truths and meaning of a simple fact and these are suitable for every situation and for every research problem (Johnson and Christensen 2010)

This approach is connected to qualitative research approach which comes from interviewing people. The research topic is Crowdsourcing, and it was not possible to interview the people either in UK or any other country. Secondly the researcher of this study intend to generate the numbers which may show that how advertisers use Crowdsourcing as tool for their sole benefit ignoring the people for whom the entire product or campaign is. This research needs an objective approach which will present “how many” rather than “what they” people think about the crowd sourcing & advertising. Hence this philosophy was not considered as the appropriate philosophy either.

1.2.  Approach

1.2.1.  Deductive approach
After reading the literature and after the analysis of some of the examples of Crowdsourcing, the motives of the advertisers to crowdsource are identified. This identified theory and hence created conceptual framework leads to the development of hypotheses. A research strategy is designed and the primary data is collected to test these hypotheses. Hence, the approach adopted by this research is a deductive approach (Lewis & Saunders, pp57).

1.2.2.  Inductive approach
Inductive approach is usually associated with the Interpretevism philosophy. This is not the rule but its roots begin from interpretation & subjectivism, and hence it is related to interpretivism philosophy. This research adheres to positivism philosophy & hence inductive approach is not applicable.

1.3.  Strategy – Survey
This research demands for the information to be collected from the participants of the Crowdsourcing model, which is the general people, explained in the sampling section later. The most appropriate method used here was survey because it is practically and economically not feasible to interview random people. Survey method, a widely used strategy in the business and management research will be used because it enables the researcher to obtain a huge amount of data from large number of people in an economical manner (Saunders pp138).

1.4.  Quantitative research
Bryman and Bell (2007) has classified surveys as a part of the quantitative research strategies. Using survey in any research leaves no scope of manipulation as this is just a measurement of facts and data. So, in this research project, using a survey approach has given more control over the research process as this method is perceived as authoritative by people in general.

1.5.  Questionnaire
The instrument used for the survey is a close ended questionnaire. The primary data collected is quantitative (Collis pp. 187). The questionnaire is list of carefully selected questions which are designed to answer the research questions.

The survey was developed using a web-based tool called Google Docs – Form. This form was embedded in a webpage of a website called thinkmetowe.com, and this website was created specially to be provided as a platform where the participants can conveniently fill the survey. Besides this survey the website also provided a short explanation on Crowdsourcing, however, the questionnaire was given a special and a dedicated page which could be located from all other pages of the website and the link appeared in the top menu at all times.

The questionnaire had three sections to it. The first section was the qualifier section and had two questions in it. This section aimed to find out what kind of internet user the respondent is. If the respondent never accessed internet then it would be pointless to analyse his response as the respondent won’t be a part of the online crowd. The second question aimed to find out what kind of activity the respondent involves him / her in, when online. Again it would be pointless to analyse the data if the respondent was online frequently but never browsed the internet. An example of this would be someone who is online on a website daily, as a part of his education, but never browsed anything but the university mailbox.

Section two of the questionnaire collected the demographic data, which helped in classifying the respondents according to their Age group, nationality, education level, professional level, interest and expertise.
Section three was the main body of the questionnaire. It collected the data which when analysed turned into the information that would actually answer the research questions. The responses to the questions in this section got the information as listed below.

  • The type of Crowdsourcing does the crowd prefer to participate in.
  • The amount of effort the crowd prefer to make online.
  • The awareness of Crowdsourcing models deployed by advertisers.
  • The reward that actually motivates the crowd.
  • The influence of cash as reward.
  • The influence of motivators offered, on the crowd.
  • The effect of advertisements – crowdsourced models on building a brand image, encouraging word of mouth and increasing sales.

Section two and section three will be analysed together, which means that every category developed in section two will grouped individually with all the questions in section three. This will be done because it is important to analyse to find out if people of different demography react differently to Crowdsourcing or if the effect of Crowdsourcing is homogenous.

1.6.  Sample Size
The reason the online based survey was chosen as the research is primarily based on a study of an online business model – Crowdsourcing. The survey aimed to get opinions of people from all kind of background and hence the target audience was aimed to be as wide ranging as possible. People from various age group, nationality and educational and professional background were questioned.

To achieve this, it was tried to keep the crowd as diversified as it could get. It ranged from students from the various universities, working professionals, unemployed, from varied age range, and from varied ethinicity.

Universities were chosen as they have students from all kind of background. Students union of Xavier University, DePaul University, Princeton University, Liberty University, Syracuse University, Purdue University, Auburn University, Stanford University, GRD School of International business, Harvard University and University of Central Lancashire were contacted.

Also to get people from other backgrounds, the survey was advertised by displaying pay per click adverts on various websites, using Google Adwords program. 500 clicks were purchased through Google Adwords program which made sure that at least 500 people from other background, through other websites land on the survey page. Taking the survey was the decision of those people, but at least they were presented the survey to fill in.  443 professionals and personal contact of the researchers were emailed the links with a request to participate. The survey was also advertised on a social networking website called Facebook.

This assured that at least 500 students, 450 professionals and 500 people from other background were presented with the survey, This sample size assured a homogenous mix of people from all kind of educational, national and age diversity.

Since the questionnaire aimed to survey a random sample and the population was unknown the aimed to collect at least was 380 filled surveys (Corbetta, 2003).  A 15 day long survey campaign, which consisted of those aforementioned, managed to get the number very close to the aimed target. A total of 374 results were collected before the research moved to the analysis stage.

For the analysis on discussion on collected data, continue reading here..

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