Skip to main content

The advantages and pitfalls of elicitated online user engagement

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - TheSocialBusiness (The advantages and pitfalls of elicitated online user engagement)

Reporting period: 2019-12-01 to 2021-05-31

TheSocialBusiness - The advantages and pitfalls of elicited Online User Engagement

The research led by Prof. Gal Oestreicher-Singer is consisted of several aims that are manifested in a variety of projects. Below you can see the abstract of the project published thus far.

"The Dark Side of User Participation-The Effect of Calls to Action on Trust and Information Revelation"

• join work with Dr. Lior Zalmanson and Dr. Yael Ecker
• Accepted for publication at MIS Quarterly


Across different domains, websites are incorporating social media features, rendering themselves interactive and community-oriented. This study suggests that these “friendly” websites may indirectly encourage users to disclose private information. To investigate this possibility, we carried out online experiments utilizing a YouTube-like video-browsing platform. This platform provides a realistic and controlled environment in which to study users’ behaviors and perceptions during their first encounter with a website. We show that the presence of social cues on a website (e.g. an environment in which users “like” or rate website content) indirectly affects users’ likelihood of disclosing private information to that website (such as full name, address and birthdate) by enhancing users’ “social perceptions” of the website, i.e. their perceptions that the website is a place where they can socialize with others. We further show that the presence of social cues is more likely to enhance users’ social perceptions when users are primed to perceive the website as trustworthy, as opposed to untrustworthy (through the presentation of trust cues such as data protection disclaimers). Moreover, we rule out users’ privacy concerns as an alternative mechanism influencing the relationship between social cues and information disclosure. We ground our observations in goal systems and trust theories. Our insights may be beneficial both for managers and for policy makers who seek to safeguard users’ privacy.

"The effect of online engagement on monetary donation"

• Joint work with Dr. Lior Zalmanson, Dr. Dikla Perez and Matthew Rubin


Online content and service providers find it challenging to elicit payment from their users and thus face a financial sustainability challenge. We follow past research that showed that the use of feedback surveys may lead to consumer loyalty and study whether simple ‘calls to action’ — prompts that require the user to rate the content or service — encourage monetary conversion. We first present controlled web experiments to establish a causal relationship between users’ exposure to prompts and their subsequent monetary contributions. Study participants watched videos on a video website and were presented with prompts to rate the current video. Users who were prompted to rate videos donated more money to the website compared with users who were not exposed to prompts. Notably, the prompts did not affect users' satisfaction. Next, in two large-scale field studies, conducted in collaboration with a major publishing website, we establish the applicability of our findings to real-life settings. Specifically, we show that users who are prompted to rate their experience become significantly more likely to convert to a paid version. Our research is novel in showing, both in the lab and in the field, a causal relation between calls to action and user conversion.

"The Effect of Consumer Engagement on Mobile Consumption"

• Joint work with Dr. Iris Somech and Dr. Shachar Reichman


One of the important segments of mobile commerce is the mobile application market, where consumers download applications from an app store. Prior work showed that user behavior in mobile settings is substantially different than user behavior in PC settings, and therefore needs to be better understood. In this research, we aim to identify positive and negative effects of mobile engagement features on mobile consumption, specifically on app downloads. Using designated Google Play- and App Store-like pages of two apps from two app categories, we run a mobile lab experiment in which one of three engagement features is excluded in each condition, while all three features are available in the control condition. Our findings show that in mobile settings, engagement features’ effects are heterogeneous and may vary with one or more of the following consumer attributes: gender, mobile device type, and the interest level in the selected app category.