Online Marketing Effectiveness - the influence of information load and digital literacy, a cross-country comparison

  • José-Alberto CastañedaEmail author
  • Dolores M. Frías-Jamilena
  • Miguel A. Rodríguez-Molina
  • Adam Jones
Research Paper


The objective of much promotional material is to create attitudes about a product or service with existing and prospective consumers. The effectiveness of the promotion in generating such attitudes is partly dependent upon the ability of these actual and prospective consumers to process the information provided in the promotional material, which then impacts on their decision. The aim of this research is to analyze the effectiveness of a promotional website under different information load conditions, for consumers from countries that differ in their digital information literacy. To achieve this goal, an experiment was conducted which was designed to manage the amount of information shown to participants from two different countries (the United Kingdom and Spain). The results suggest that both the main and interaction effect of information load and digital literacy have an impact on a website’s effectiveness. This implies that promotional websites need to be not only culturally but also cognitively adapted.


Website effectiveness Information load Digital literacy Tourism 

JEL classification




  1. Ahuja, J. S., & Webster, J. (2001). Perceived disorientation: an examination of a new measure to assess web design effectiveness. Interacting with Computers, 14, 15–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. ALA (1989). Presidential Committee on Information Literacy: Final Report. Retrieved February 20, 1989 from
  3. Bawden, D. (2008). Origins and concepts of digital literacy. In C. Lankshear & M. Knobel (Eds.), Digital literacies: Concepts, policies and practices (pp. 17–32). New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  4. Bawden, D., & Robinson, L. (2009). The dark side of information: overload, anxiety and other paradoxes and pathologies. Journal of Information Science, 35(2), 180–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bettman, J. R. (1979). Memory factors in consumer choice: A review. Journal of Marketing, 43(2), 37-53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Birru, M. S., Monaco, V. M., Charles, L., Drew, H., Njie, V., Bierria, T., Detlefsen, E., & Steinman, R. A. (2004). Internet usage by low-literacy adults seeking health information: an observational analysis. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 6(3).Google Scholar
  7. Biswas, D. (2004). Economics of information in the web economy: towards a new theory? Journal of Business Research, 57(7), 724–733.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Buhalis, D., & Law, R. (2008). Progress in information technology and tourism management: 20 years on and 10 years after the Internet—The state of eTourism research. Tourism management, 29(4), 609–623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Castaneda, J. A., Rodríguez, M. A., & Luque, T. (2009). Attitudes' hierarchy of effects in online user behavior. Online Information Review, 33(1), 7–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Catts, R., & Lau, J. (2008). Towards information literacy indicators. Paris: UNESCO Retrieved February 20, 2019 from Scholar
  11. Chatterjee, A. (2016). Elements of information organization and dissemination. Chandos Publishing.Google Scholar
  12. Chen, C. Y., Pedersen, S., & Murphy, K. L. (2011). Learners’ perceived information overload in online learning via computer-mediated communication. Research in Learning Technology, 19(2).Google Scholar
  13. Chewning Jr., E. G., & Harrell, A. M. (1990). The effect of information load on decision makers' cue utilization levels and decision quality in a financial distress decision task. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 15(6), 527–542.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Craik, F. I., & Lockhart, R. S. (1972). Levels of processing: A framework for memory research. Journal of verbal learning and verbal behavior, 11(6), 671–684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cyr, D. (2008). Modeling web site design across cultures: relationships to trust, satisfaction, and e-loyalty. Journal of Management Information Systems, 24(4), 47–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Eppler, M. J., & Mengis, J. (2004). The concept of information overload: A review of literature from organization science, accounting, marketing, MIS, and related disciplines. The information society, 20(5), 325–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. European Commission (2014). Individuals with basic or above basic digital skills. Digital Agenda Scoreboard. Retrieved February 20, 2019 from
  18. European Parliament and European Council (2006). Key competences for lifelong learning (2006/962/EC). Offi cial Journal of the European Union L 394/10. Retrieved July 04, 2019 from
  19. Frau-Meigs, D., Velez, I., & Michel, J. F. (Eds.). (2017). Public policies in media and information literacy in Europe: cross-country comparisons. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Frias, D. M., Rodriguez, M. A., & Castañeda, J. A. (2008). Internet vs. travel agencies on pre-visit destination image formation: An information processing view. Tourism management, 29(1), 163–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Furner, C. P., & Zinko, R. A. (2017). The influence of information overload on the development of trust and purchase intention based on online product reviews in a mobile vs. web environment: an empirical investigation. Electronic Markets, 27(3), 211–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Garcia-Retamero, R., Cokely, E. T., & Ghazal, S. (2014). Comparing risk literacy in 31 countries: New results from the Berlin Numeracy Test. Manuscript in preparation.Google Scholar
  23. Gilster, P. (1997). Digital literacy. New York: Wiley Computer Pub.Google Scholar
  24. Goodwin, S., & Etgar, M. (1980). An experimental investigation of comparative advertising: Impact of message appeal, information load, and utility of product class. Journal of Marketing Research, 17(2), 187–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hargittai, E. (2005). Survey measures of web-oriented digital literacy. Social Science Computer Review, 23(3), 371–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hobbs, R., & Jensen, A. (2009). The past, present, and future of media literacy education. Journal of media literacy education, 1(1), 1–11.Google Scholar
  27. Hult, G. T. M., Ketchen, D. J., Griffith, D. A., Finnegan, C. A., Gonzalez-Padron, T., Harmancioglu, N., Huang, Y., Talay, M. B., & Cavusgil, S. T. (2008). Data Equivalence in Cross-cultural International Business Research: Assessment and Guidelines. Journal of International Business Studies, 39(6), 1027–1044.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Iannuzzi, P. (2000). Information literacy competency standards for higher education. Community & Junior College Libraries, 9(4), 63–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Im, H., & Ha, Y. (2011). The effect of perceptual fluency and enduring involvement on situational involvement in an online apparel shopping context. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management: An International Journal, 15(3), 345–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Ivanitskaya, L., O’Boyle, I., & Casey, A. M. (2006). Health information literacy and competencies of information age students: results from the interactive online Research Readiness Self-Assessment (RRSA). Journal of medical Internet research, 8(2).Google Scholar
  31. Jackson, T. W., & Farzaneh, P. (2012). Theory-based model of factors affecting information overload. International Journal of Information Management, 32(6), 523–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jacoby, J. (1977). Information load and decision quality: Some contested issues. Journal of Marketing Research, 14(4), 569–573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jacoby, J., Speller, D. E., & Berning, C. K. (1974a). Brand choice behavior as a function of information-load: Replication and extension. Journal of Consumer Research, 1, 33–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jacoby, J., Speller, D. E., & Kohn, C. A. (1974b). Brand choice behavior as a function of information load. Journal of Marketing Research, 11(1), 63–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jae, H., DelVecchio, D. S., & Childers, T. L. (2011). Are low-literate and high-literate consumers different? Applying resource-matching theory to ad processing across literacy levels. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 21(3), 312–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Karson, E. J., & Fisher, R. J. (2005). Predicting intentions to return to the web site: extending the dual mediation hypothesis. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 19(3), 2–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kessels, R. P. (2003). Patients’ memory for medical information. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 96(5), 219–222.Google Scholar
  38. Knobel, M., & Lankshear, C. (2006). Digital literacy and digital literacies: Policy, pedagogy and research considerations for education. Nordic Journal of digital literacy, 1(01), 12–24.Google Scholar
  39. Ko, D., Seo, Y., & Jung, S. U. (2015). Examining the effect of cultural congruence, processing fluency, and uncertainty avoidance in online purchase decisions in the US and Korea. Marketing Letters, 26(3), 377–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Koltay, T. (2011). The media and the literacies: Media literacy, information literacy, digital literacy. Media, Culture & Society, 33(2), 211–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lee, B. K., & Lee, W. N. (2004). The effect of information overload on consumer choice quality in an on-line environment. Psychology & Marketing, 21(3), 159–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Liao, C., Palvia, P., & Lin, H. N. (2010). Stage antecedents of consumer online buying behavior. Electronic Markets, 20(1), 53–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Loh, K. K., & Kanai, R. (2016). How has the Internet reshaped human cognition? The Neuroscientist, 22(5), 506–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lurie, N. (2004). Decision making in information-rich environments: the role of information structure. Journal of Consumer Research, 30, 473–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. MacKenzie, S. B., & Lutz, R. J. (1989). An empirical examination of the structural antecedents of attitude toward the ad in an advertising pretesting context. Journal of marketing, 53(2), 48–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. MacKenzie, S. B., Lutz, R. J., & Belch, G. E. (1986). The role of attitude toward the ad as a mediator of advertising effectiveness: A test of competing explanations. Journal of marketing research, 23(2), 130–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Madon, S. (2000). The Internet and socio-economic development: exploring the interaction. Information technology & people, 13(2), 85–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Malhotra, N. K. (1982). Information load and consumer decision making. Journal of consumer research, 8(4), 419–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Miller, G. A. (1994). The magical number seven, plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information. Psychological Review, 101(2), 343–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Muehling, D. D. (1987). An investigation of factors underlying attitude-toward-advertising-in-general. Journal of Advertising, 16(1), 32–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Nelson, D. L., Reed, V. S., & McEvoy, C. L. (1977). Encoding strategy and sensory and semantic interference. Memory & cognition, 5(4), 462–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. OECD (2015). PISA results in focus. Retrieved February 20, 2019 from
  53. Olson, J. C. (1980). Encoding processes: levels of processing and existing knowledge structures. Advances in Consumer Research, 7(1), 154–160.Google Scholar
  54. Payne, J. W. (1982). Contingent decision behavior. Psychological Bulletin, 92(2), 382–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Payne, J. W., Bettman, J. R., & Johnson, E. J. (1993). The adaptive decision maker. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Petty, R. E., Cacioppo, J. T., & Schumann, D. (1983). Central and peripheral routes to advertising effectiveness: The moderating role of involvement. Journal of consumer research, 10(2), 135–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 1. On the horizon, 9(5), 1–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Rodríguez-Molina, M. A., Frías-Jamilena, D. M., & Castañeda-García, J. A. (2015). The contribution of website design to the generation of tourist destination image: The moderating effect of involvement. Tourism Management, 47, 303–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Roetzel, P. G. (2018). Information overload in the information age: a review of the literature from business administration, business psychology, and related disciplines with a bibliometric approach and framework development. Business Research, 1-44.Google Scholar
  60. Scheibehenne, B., Greifeneder, R., & Todd, P. M. (2010). Can there ever be too many options? A meta-analytic review of choice overload. Journal of consumer research, 37(3), 409–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Schwartz, B. (2004). The paradox of choice: Why more is less. New York, NY, US: Harper Collins Publishers.Google Scholar
  62. Sicilia, M., & Ruiz, S. (2010). The effects of the amount of information on cognitive responses in online purchasing tasks. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, 9(2), 183–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Simon, H. A. (1956). Rational choice and the structure of the environment. Psychological Review, 63(2), 129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Simon, H. A. (1972). Theories of bounded rationality. Decision and organization, 1(1), 161–176.Google Scholar
  65. Singh, N., Zhao, H., & Hu, X. (2005). Cultural Adaptation on the Web: A Study of American Companies’. Advanced Topics in Global Information Management, 203.Google Scholar
  66. Singh, S. N., & Dalal, N. P. (1999). Web home pages as advertisements. Communications of the ACM, 42(8), 91–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Sthapit, E. (2018). The more the merrier: Souvenir shopping, the absence of choice overload and preferred attributes. Tourism Management Perspectives, 26, 126–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Sweller, J. (1994). Cognitive load theory, learning difficulty, and instructional design. Learning and instruction, 4(4), 295–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Thai, N. T., & Yuksel, U. (2017). Choice overload in holiday destination choices. International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, 11(1), 53–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. UK Office for National Statistics (2017). Internet users. Retrieved February 20, 2019 from
  71. Van Dijk, J. A. (2006). Digital divide research, achievements and shortcomings. Poetics, 34(4), 221–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Voorveld, H. A., Neijens, P. C., & Smit, E. G. (2009). Consumers' responses to brand websites: An interdisciplinary review. Internet Research, 19(5), 535–565.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wan, Y., Menon, S., & Ramaprasad, A. (2009). The Paradoxical Nature of Electronic Decision Aids on Comparison-Shopping: The Experiments and Analysis. Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research, 4(3), 80–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Wang, K. C., Chou, S. H., Su, C. J., & Tsai, H. Y. (2007). More information, stronger effectiveness? Different group package tour advertising components on web page. Journal of Business Research, 60(4), 382–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Warschauer, M. (2009). Digital literacy studies: Progress and prospects. In M. Prinsloo & M. Baynham (Eds.), The future of literacy studies (pp. 123–140). London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Webber, S., & Johnston, B. (2000). Conceptions of information literacy: new perspectives and implications. Journal of information science, 26(6), 381–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Wickens, C. D. (1991). Processing resources and attention. Multiple-task performance, 1991, 3–34.Google Scholar
  78. Xiao, B., & Benbasat, I. (2007). E-commerce product recommendation Agents: Use, Characteristics, and Impact. MIS Quarterly., 31(1), 137–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Institute of Applied Informatics at University of Leipzig 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marketing and Market Research; Faculty of Economics and Business AdministrationUniversity of Granada (Spain)GranadaSpain
  2. 2.School of Sport and Service ManagementUniversity of Brighton (UK)East SussexUK

Personalised recommendations