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What's Advertising Content Worth?: Evidence From A Consumer Credit Marketing Field Experiment

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Executive Summary

Firms spend billions of dollars developing advertising content, yet there is little field evidence on how much or how it affects demand. The authors analyze a direct mail field experiment in South Africa implemented by a consumer lender that randomized advertising content, loan price, and loan offer deadlines simultaneously. The authors find that advertising content significantly affects demand. Although it was difficult to predict ex-ante which specific advertising features would matter most in this context, the features that do matter have large effects. Showing fewer example loans, not suggesting a particular use for the loan, or including a photo of an attractive female increase loan demand by about as much as a 25% reduction in the interest rate. The evidence also suggests that advertising content persuades by appealing "Peripherally": to intuition rather than reason.

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