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2011
ACM

Here, there, and everywhere: correlated online behaviors can lead to overestimates of the effects of advertising

8 years 6 months ago
Here, there, and everywhere: correlated online behaviors can lead to overestimates of the effects of advertising
Measuring the causal effects of online advertising (adfx) on user behavior is important to the health of the WWW publishing industry. In this paper, using three controlled experiments, we show that observational data frequently lead to incorrect estimates of adfx. The reason, which we label “activity bias,” comes from the surprising amount of time-based correlation between the myriad activities that users undertake online. In Experiment 1, users who are exposed to an ad on a given day are much more likely to engage in brandrelevant search queries as compared to their recent history for reasons that had nothing do with the advertisement. In Experiment 2, we show that activity bias occurs for page views across diverse websites. In Experiment 3, we track account sign-ups at a competitor’s (of the advertiser) website and find that many more people sign-up on the day they saw an advertisement than on other days, but that the true “competitive effect” was minimal. In all three ...
Randall A. Lewis, Justin M. Rao, David H. Reiley
Added 15 May 2011
Updated 15 May 2011
Type Journal
Year 2011
Where WWW
Authors Randall A. Lewis, Justin M. Rao, David H. Reiley
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