Here are some of our favorites:
Much was made of this 2015 Microsoft study, which revealed a shocking statistic that’s now well-known: average humans today have an attention span of eight seconds. For context, the paper added the average attention span of a goldfish: nine seconds.
However, there’s lots more of interest in the actual report than just the “shorter attention span than a goldfish” stat. Reading the entire study about Canadian consumers reveals important things, such as that the shortest attention spans aren’t confined to the youngest consumers. The paper also looks at different kinds of attention, and breaks down which marketing tactics can best get consumers to pay attention in the way brands want them to.
This paper reveals how social media habits can be used to predict people’s psychological natures. With this knowledge, the authors argue, you can effectively target people with personalized advertising to get the results you want, based on the knowledge you have from their prior social media use.
The authors also suggest that you can apply this targeted advertising not just to small groups, but to large numbers of social media users to get positive results. They even cover how to handle the possible drawbacks of these strategies, such as privacy concerns, for a well-rounded look at this marketing tactic.
Many studies are limited by looking at participants from only one country or region. This marketing paper is particularly interesting because it looks at the way cultural differences can affect brand perceptions.
The authors suggest ways to reach consumers across cultural differences, but they also found valuable similarities between cultures, such as that people respond well to brands they can anthropomorphize, or assign human traits to.
Some of the most interesting research papers debunk ideas that are held as common knowledge in the marketing world. For example, many brands assume that fast loading times are essential for keeping consumers happy - but this paper suggests something else.
Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that these findings are from 2011, and ubiquitous smartphone use means a modern version of the same paper might look somewhat different. Still, the authors’ findings remain fascinating. For example, they found that users will actually assign value to websites that take longer to load - as long as those sites clearly show why the page is loading slowly. Because the site appeared to put “effort” into loading, people see the results as more valuable in the end.
This paper ranked among the most-cited research papers in business, economics, or management published between 2011 and 2015. Just a few years later, it might seem like the authors are arguing for the obvious: that social media is a valuable marketing tool.
However, even today, the paper still offers great insights by breaking down social media into its essential components, and providing strategies for how to use it wisely. Think of it as a primer for using social media from a marketer’s perspective.