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Attitude toward the Ad ([A.sub.AD]) is widely used in studies of traditional mass media advertising. As e-commerce becomes more important, Attitude toward the Site ([A.sub.ST]) will gain parallel status in evaluating effectiveness. In this study, we develop and present a reliable and valid scale that measures Attitude toward a Website ([A.sub.ST]). We then develop and present additional scales that provide more detailed information. Reasons for high and low evaluations are discussed and illustrated.
THE YEAR 1998 SAW a breakthrough for electronic commerce--buying by modem. This development not only changed the nature of holiday shopping but the face of retailing itself. Newsweek (December 1998) quoted Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos as calling 1998's Christmas a "Web Christmas" instead of a "White Christmas." According to Jupiter Communication (Newsweek, December 1998), almost 17 million people purchased something from a website in 1998, up from 10 million in 1997 and 5 million in 1996. Observers predicted that within a decade, "mouse clickers will eclipse catalog buyers" (Newsweek, December 1998). The actual growth of online retail is even faster than expected. According to the Boston Consulting Group, the revenue from online sales is likely to top $36 billion by the end of 1999, more than double 1998's total (Marketing News, August 16, 1999).
Of course these developments beget competition. In 1998, approximately a million-and-a-half new web pages appeared each day, and many of them were ineffective (Ventures, January 1999). Internet advertisers now need to wonder whether their communications will be noticed and accepted.
Marketing News (November 1998) reported that new media research firms hope to grow rich by inventing an industry standard for measuring responses to web pages. Although many approaches have been proposed, chaos presently exceeds agreement (Krauss, 1998; Marketing News, July 1998; November 1998).
The most obvious parallel to evaluating web advertising is evaluating traditional mass media advertising. Although researchers have devoted much attention to this topic, no single system is preeminent. However, one approach--measuring Attitude toward the Ad ([A.sub.AD])--has proved useful in applied and academic settings (Shimp, 1981; MacKenzie, Lutz, and Belch, 1986; Baker and Lutz, 1988; Brown and Stayman, 1992). It therefore seems likely that as the Internet becomes more important, Attitude toward the Site ([A.sub.ST]) will prove useful for similar purposes. Hence, this paper presents a practical, reliable, and valid scale that measures Attitude toward the Site ([A.sub.ST]) and gives examples of its applications.
Academic and applied researchers have also found that a single measure of Attitude toward the Ad does not convey all the information in consumers' ratings of advertisements (Schlinger, 1979; Pashupati, 1994). It therefore seems likely that dimensions that correlate with Attitude toward the Site will yield insights into surfers' reactions. After describing development of an Attitude toward the Site ([A.sub.ST]) scale, we present and discuss three scales that profile more detailed dimensions.
ATTITUDE TOWARD THE SITE ([A.sub.ST])
Although some marketers initially regarded the Internet as quite measurable (Gibson, 1997), many soon realized that "web surfers are getting harder to measure" (Taylor, 1997). They came to understand, for instance, that the once popular click-throughs approach might well be distorted by online robots that imitate human surfers. In response to these technical limitations (ARF, 1995, 1996; Chen, 1996), some academic researchers focused on counting reach and frequency (Leckenby and Hong, 1998). This development increased the need to find a way to assess individual website effectiveness.
Previous research on Attitude toward the Ad ([A.sub.AD])--a "predisposition to respond in a favorable or unfavorable manner to a particular advertising stimulus during a particular exposure situation" (MacKenzie, Lutz, and Belch, 1986)--has shown that [A.sub.AD] is an indicator of advertising effectiveness. In a well-known study sponsored by the Advertising Research Foundation, Haley and Baldinger (1991) found that how well viewers liked an Ad was the best single predictor of sales effects. Aaker and Stayman (1990) found that [A.sub.AD] was the best single effectiveness index. Shimp (1981), Batra and Ray (1986), and MacKenzie, Lutz, and Belch (1986) found that [A.sub.AD] influences brand attitudes and purchase intentions. Brown and Stayman (1992) provide an integrated review of this evidence.
By analogy, we assume that Attitude toward the Site ([A.sub.ST]) will be an equally useful indicator of site value. In this study, we emphasize web surfers' predispositions to respond favorably or unfavorably to web content in natural exposure situations.
Scale items. One way to measure Attitude toward the Site ([A.sub.ST]) would be to employ one or more bipolar rating scales patterned after the "evaluative" factor of the semantic differential (Osgood, Suci, and Tannenbaum, 1957). Indeed, many of the studies cited above used "good-bad," "like-dislike," and "nice-awful" to measure affective responses to advertisements.
However, a website can be good or bad in specific ways. It can be easy or difficult to use, it can be active or passive, or it can make a positive or negative impression of the sponsoring company. Accordingly, we asked a sample of experienced web users how they would describe "good" and "bad" websites. Consensus developed around the expressions shown in Figure 1: "makes it easy for me to develop a relationship with the company"; "would like to visit this website again in the future"; "satisfied with the service provided"; "feel comfortable in surfing the website"; and "surfing the website is a good way to spend my time." These specifics accompanied and enriched more general evaluations.
Figure 1 Six Ways to Measure Attitude toward the Site ([A.sub.ST]) The following items assess your general favorability toward the website you just visited. Circle the number that best indicates your agreement or disagreement with each statement. This website makes it easy Definitely disagree Definitely agree for me to build a relat- 1 2 3 4 5 ionship with this company. I would like to visit this 1 2 3 4 5 website again in the future. I'm satisfied with the 1 2 3 4 5 service provided by this website. I feel comfortable in 1 2 3 4 5 surfing this website. I feel surfing this website 1 2 3 4 5 is a good way for me to spend my time Compared with other websites, One of the Worst One of the Best …