The purpose of this paper, building on the media richness theory (MRT), is to propose that while communicating product information via streaming video should enhance outcome measures, such an enhancement will be evident mainly for users with equivocal, latent goals (i.e. recreational browsing) rather than for those with less equivocal, concrete goals (i.e. the search of a specific product).
The experiment involved 337 potential online consumers in Canada, and had full factorial design with four conditions (two methods to communicate product information: textual vs streaming video, and two goals: product searching vs recreational browsing). Analysis of covariance was used to test the hypotheses.
The results lent support to the hypotheses. The perceived information quality, trusting competence, and arousal for participants with recreational browsing goals were significantly affected when product information where communicated using streaming video. For participants with concrete goals (product searchers), the traditional textual method was as effective as the streaming video method.
The findings entice practitioners to use rich media such as the streaming video method to communicate online information predominantly for users with experiential browsing goals, and to use lean media for users with less equivocal, concrete goals.
The results contribute to the sparse literature that underscores the key role of user goal in shaping the effectiveness of online information. The results provide empirical support to the prediction of MRT that the use of rich media to communicate information is advantageous for users with latent, equivocal goals.
The authors thank the editor that handled the submission, Jo Bates, and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. This research was financed by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (No. 752-2009-1863-05) and the J. Armand Bombardier Foundation. The authors thank Bianca Grohmann (Concordia University), Charles F. Hofacker (Florida State University), Danilo Dantas (HEC Montreal), and Frank Pons (Laval University) for their valuable remarks on an earlier version of this research paper.
Aljukhadar, M. and Senecal, S. (2017), "Communicating online information via streaming video: the role of user goal", Online Information Review, Vol. 41 No. 3, pp. 378-397. https://doi.org/10.1108/OIR-06-2016-0152
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