Though research literature addresses a broad range of advertising impact models, studies on the channel preferences of online purchasers have received little attention, regarding both multichannel settings and channel interplay in click sequences. To provide advertisers a method for better evaluating customer channel preference, this study investigates the path to purchase by building on four multichannel clickstream data sets from three industries, recorded with cookie-tracking technologies. Applying a Cox model and clustering techniques supports delineation of empirical generalizations and industry-specific findings on channel exposure, including their antecedents and distinct channel click sequences. Across data sets, online users show idiosyncratic channel preferences for a limited set of one or two channels rather than multiple online vehicles. Both channel homogeneous click sequences and combinations of two channels (including branded contacts) are effective as purchase predictors. Our study also presents industry-specific results regarding the influence of click sequences on purchase intent, thereby providing insights for advertising research, particularly as are suited to optimization of online advertising activities.

Authors: Ingo F. Becker, Marc Linzmajer and Florian von Wangenheim