Research line 1 Online media developments (Theme 1.1-1.4)

Today’s media are characterized by digitization, interactivity, connectivity, mobility, ubiquity, multitasking and fragmentation. Devices such as smart phones and tablets afford reading, watching and listening and are able to integrate and complement previously separated media activities. A major aim of this research line is to understand what influences the perceptions and the way consumers use digital media, and with what consequences, with a specific focus on the use and effectiveness of personalized communication. Within this line, we study the possibilities and challenges of new interactive digital media and technologies such as augmented reality, location-based advertising apps and mobile health apps that collect real-time health data.
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Theme 1.1 One size fits all? Personalized online health communication

Personalized or “tailored” ICT innovations offer large opportunities for the management of health, well-being or diseases. Particularly, the role for mobile health (“m-Health”) is increasing. However, little is known about how people use ICT innovations for health, and what the effects are of using these technologies. Continue reading >>

Theme 1.2 Persuasion in the media multitasking context

Media saturation and the convergence of technologies have led to an increase in a combined use of different media (e.g., using a smartphone and watching TV). This phenomenon is known as media multitasking and describes situations when consumers consume multiple media at the same time. Media multitasking could impact the way communication, such as advertisements, is processed. Continue reading >>

Theme 1.3 Personalized online advertising

This theme focuses on the uses and implications of personalized advertising. The usage of personal information to tailor and target communication can generate more consumer engagement, but can also lead to privacy issues. Continue reading >>

Theme 1.4 New media & advertising

New media, such as social networks (e.g., Facebook and Instagram), blogs, vlogs, branded apps (e.g., Tinder and Snapchat), brand websites, emerge at a fast pace. In this theme we investigate uses and perceptions of new media, and consequences of new media marketing strategies. Emergent media raise questions like: How do characteristic features of new media (interactivity, mobility, social connectivity, dialogue, augmented reality) influence the persuasiveness of new media advertising strategies? Continue reading >>

Research line 2 Consumer empowerment (Theme 2.1 & 2.2)

Communication technology increasingly disguises the use of persuasion tactics, which increasingly blurs the boundary between the private and the public. This research line, aims to disentangle (hidden) persuasion and resistance mechanisms, to inform users about strategies, and to develop tools to empower consumers to resist hidden persuasion. It is investigated to what extent people are informed about persuasion techniques (disclosures), to what extent they are able to resist persuasion, and if so, what role this awareness plays.
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Theme 2.1 Resistance towards persuasion

People are not always open to persuasive messages, such as advertising and health messages. In fact, consumers often arm themselves with several strategies to resist persuasion. This is a problem for advertisers and information officials as they strive to influence people’s behavior with their messages. Continue reading >>

Theme 2.2 Persuasive effects of sponsored content and disclosures of sponsored content

Advertising is increasingly integrated into editorial media content, in vlogs, blogs, tweets, music videos, and television programs, a phenomenon called sponsored content, native advertising or brand placement. For advertisers, these are new ways to reach the audience. But, for legislators the hidden nature of sponsored content is a cause of concern. Continue reading >>

Research line 3 Online and offline interactions (Theme 3.1-3.5)

In today’s society, interpersonal and mediated communication increasingly intertwine and interact, thereby blurring boundaries between the online and offline world and making it more dynamic than ever before. Communication does not only involve organizations communicating via various media outlets to the public, but also the way in which citizens communicate about this information amongst each other. This means an increasingly important role for consumer reviews, (e)Word of Mouth, consumer posts on social media and a need for companies and organizations to develop adequate webcare. In this respect, offline and online peer-to-peer, parent-child, teacher-student and patient-provider interactions are also examined.
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Theme 3.1 Intercultural communication

Due to on-going globalization, communication between people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds is on the increase. Interactions between people from different cultural/ethnic backgrounds are often characterized by miscommunication and misunderstandings. This is problematic, because this impedes persuasive effects, such as positive attitudes and intentions. Continue reading >>

Theme 3.2 Health on social media

The emergence of social media has allowed people to become both active posters and passive recipients of communication and media related to health. For instance, people may post exercise goals and performance on social media, but may at the same time be exposed to friends drinking alcohol and/or indulging in unhealthy snacks. Continue reading >>

Theme 3.3 Opinion expression and opinion leadership in social media

Social media offer various opportunities to express one’s opinion publicly (e.g., in comments about brands) and to communicate with and persuade a large number of friends or followers. In this environment, some users may be particularly influential and emerge as opinion leaders, for instance, with regard to topics of health or marketing communication. Continue reading >>

Theme 3.4 Brand endorsements on social media

On social media, such as Facebook, consumers often “like” or share brands and brand- related information. They can, for instance, like brands on Facebook, re-tweet brand-related content on twitter, or post brand-related photos on Instagram. By means of endorsements like this, consumers advertise the brand among their peers in their social network. Continue reading >>

Theme 3.5 Webcare

The evolution of digital and especially social media has empowered consumers to voice their opinions about organizations to the public at large. As these opinions influence other people’s evaluations and behaviors, many organizations (both profit and non-profit) monitor and intervene in online discussions. Such practices have become known as webcare (Van Noort & Willemsen, 2012). Continue reading >>

Research line 4 Communication campaigns and interventions (Theme 4.1-4.6)

Theory-and evidence-based campaigns and interventions are more effective in the behavior change process than those that are not based on evidence and theory. In this research line, we apply communication and behavioral theories to design, evaluate, and implement communication campaigns and interventions, with a special focus on the understanding of the underlying mechanisms. The aim is to gain insight in which content elements, design elements, behavior change techniques, and modes of delivery work best under which conditions for which target group.
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Theme 4.1 Evaluating and improving digital health communication

Despite the abundance of digital health information and its potential to improve healthcare, most health information is difficult to understand and hard to apply by consumers. Particularly people with low health literacy or older adults are vulnerable, and find it difficult to apply health information to their daily lives. Continue reading >>

Theme 4.2 Entertainment-Education

Entertainment formats are increasingly being used to convey educational messages, like messages about condom use in a popular sitcom or about organ donation in a narrative. Research on this novel message strategy has just started to emerge and many questions remain. Continue reading >>

Theme 4.3 Risky business? How to optimize risk communication

Choices that people make often include uncertainty and risk – will the new iPhone last as long as I would like? Will not drinking alcohol keep me healthy? Will wearing a bicycle helmet in Amsterdam keep me safe? Continue reading >>

Theme 4.4 Effective persuasive communication for the 50+ target group

People aged 50 years and older are an increasingly important target group for campaigns that focus on commercial, social or health issues. Theories suggest that older adults respond differently to persuasive communication than younger people because of ageing and generational differences. Continue reading >>

Theme 4.5 Using social proof in communication campaigns and interventions

When we are unsure of how to act or what to do, we often look around us to see what others are doing and let this guide our actions. In persuasive communication, social norms (i.e., what others do, or think we should do) are often used to influence consumer or health behavior. Continue reading >>

Theme 4.6 Green advertising and CSR

The environment has become a hot topic over the past few years. Both profit (H&M conscious, Tony’s Chocolonely) and non-profit (governmental) organizations try to stimulate green behaviors. In this theme, you can investigate different ways in which consumers may be stimulated to be green via campaigns and interventions. Continue reading >>