Rich Media/Poor Media: The Impact of Audio/Video vs. Text/Picture Testimonial Ads

In “Rich Media/Poor Media: The Impact of Audio/Video vs. Text/Picture Testimonial Ads” by Osei Appiah in 2006, there is a clear distinction made between the effects of modality on users. The research provides insight into the vividness effects of media modality and why it is important to browsers evaluations of commercial web sites and online products.

Appiah investigates whether browsers’ responses to multimedia like audio/video testimonial ads on a commercial website would significantly differ from their responses to either a commercial website with text/picture testimonials or a commercial website with no testimonials. The findings indicated that Internet browsers were more likely to believe a site was targeting them, rate a site more favorably, and rate the product more favorably when the site contained audio/video testimonials than they were when the site contained either text/picture testimonials or no testimonials. It is important to understand the difference between rich media and poor media. Rich media refers to visual effects that contain complex animations or instantly playing audio and video that exist on a Web page (Appiah 73). To the contrary, poor media does not require complex animations, instant audio or video, but rather more mundane effets like pictures and texts. At the time this article was written, many companies were reluctant to use multimedia features on their sites because high-speed broadband technology is required to best view the rich-media effects. For this reason, rich-media viewing limitation is particularly troubling to companies doing consumer business online because nearly half of Internet browsers use slow-speed dial-up modems which makes downloading audio and video features more difficult. The research was broken down into several different components: typical user testimonial ads, vividness effects of modality, availability valence, the measurement instruments, hypotheis, procedure, and results. A typical user testimonial generally has a satisfied ordinary customer discuss his/her own experiences with the brand and the benefits of using it (Appiah 74). The vividness effects of modality refers to advertising strategies used to influence consumers’ attitudes towards brands and products involved with the use of vivid information such as television and video. Availability valence helps to explain and predict the process by which vividly presented information influences consumer attitudes. The measurement instruments used in this study comprises six dependent variables, which include: identification with characters, belief website was intended for me, attitude towards the website, attitude towards the product, purchase likelihood, and recall of product information (Appiah 82-83). In conclusion, the results from this study suggest that companies would benefit from incorporating multimedia testimonial ads on their retail website. Additionally, the findings demonstrate that browsers identified more strongly with characters on a site featuring audio/video testimonials than they did with characters on a site featuring text/picture testimonials (Appiah 83). 

Appiah made very keen insights regarding the effects of modality concerning rich and poor media. These findings are important for businesses attempting to enhance the customer experience on their retail websites. People are spending a great deal more time shopping and browsing on the Internet than ever before. I agreed with many of his hypotheses such as identifying with characters in audio/video, because I believe that is the most effective mode to communicate to users and capture consumers. “It was hypothesized that browsers would identify more strongly with characters in audio/video testimonial ads on the Apple Web site than they would with characters in text/picture testimonial ads on the same site” (Appiah 83). Considering this was written in 2006, Appiah made some valid observations and predictions for the future on online consumerism. Online shopping is one of the largest industries in 2019; in fact, many people today prefer online shopping for clothes, devices, and products more than traditional shopping methods. Since Apple is one of the top multinational corporations in the world, they generate much of their revenue online and heavily depend on those sales. Amazon has completely shifted the dynamics of industry over the past decade, capturing a large percentage of the market share for online shopping by being the one stop shop for all products and goods. They are also releasing AmazonGo grocery stores, which changes normative grocery shopping, by allowing users to purchase produce and food online and just walk into the store to pick it up. Also, they already have Amazon Fresh, which is one of the most popular online grocery stores on the market. Jeff Bezos and Amazon are building several new corporate buildings in Tennessee and Virginia and quickly have become a once-in-a-generation consumer hub.  It would be interesting to see how effects of modality research played in Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs’ decisions to grow their companies. Within the next 10 to 15 years, all shopping may be conducted online.Apple and Amazon, especially Amazon, sure are leading the way. Where will online shopping be a decade from now?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *