A Primer on Using Behavioral Data for Testing Theories in Advertising Research

Yuping Liu-Thompkins, Edward C. Malthouse*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Interactions with and between customers in digital, social, and mobile environments are commonly recorded, producing behavioral data that have the potential to advance advertising research. This article provides an accessible guide on how to leverage such data for advertising researchers who may have thus far relied mostly on lab experiment or survey data. Specifically, we suggest potential sources for behavioral data and present a process for analyzing and interpreting behavioral data. Each step of the process is discussed: exploring, understanding and preparing data; specifying and estimating models; and interpreting and presenting the results. Some fundamental issues with using multiple regression to analyze such data are covered, including standardization, outliers, transformations, multicollinearity, and the omitted variable bias. We also discuss issues that are especially problematic with using behavioral data in advertising research, including endogeneity, count data, data with many zeros, and grouped data. More advanced versions of regression that address these issues are surveyed, including instrumental variables, propensity scoring, generalized linear models, and mixed models. General advice for thinking about behavioral data is provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-225
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Advertising
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Communication
  • Marketing


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