Social media wellbeing 

This project is a longitudinal study of people in the US and UK that attempts to understand the relationship between time spent using social media and their wellbeing (psychologically, financially, and physiologically). 

Oxford: Andrew Stephen, Cammy Crolic, Gillian Brooks
External: Peter Zubcsek (Tel Aviv University)


Social media advertising effectiveness 

This is a global study of over 200 digital advertising campaigns run by over 100 brands on Facebook and Instagram, looking to see how ads in these media channels impact brand-level metrics. Findings show that social media ads can have a positive impact on brand, particularly in generating awareness, but only for brands that act in a more social and “human” manner in social media. 

Oxford: Andrew Stephen, Felipe Thomaz
External: Yakov Bart (Northeastern University)
Partner(s): Kantar Millward Brown, Facebook


Digital ROI measurement

This is a large research project aimed at developing new and better methods for measuring the ROI of digital advertising. 

Oxford: Andrew Stephen, Felipe Thomaz, Natalia Efremova
Partner(s): L’Oréal, Facebook


Chatbots and customer service

This project examines how customers feel about interactions with non-human service agents (chatbots) in online customer service encounters. Data from a large telecommunications company and experiments help us to understand when brands should and should not use non-human service agents in place of human agents. 

Oxford: Felipe Thomaz, Andrew Stephen, Cammy Crolic, Rhonda Hadi


Honeymoon effects with advertising effectiveness when using new media channels

This is a global study of over 8000 digital advertising campaigns run on desktop and mobile devices over approximately 7 years, looking to see how effectiveness varies by media format and over time. We find that for newer formats (mobile in the earlier part of the dataset) effectiveness increases and delivers supernormal performance (i.e., the honeymoon period). As formats mature, however, effectiveness declines over time. 

Oxford: Andrew Stephen, Felipe Thomaz
External: Yakov Bart (Northeastern University)
Partner(s): Kantar Millward Brown


The Chief Digital Officer Study

This project examines the leadership role of the Chief Digital Officer, which has gained in prominence in recent years. It is a relatively new role, however, and strategically vital in firms undergoing digital transformations. The research involves interviews of many CDOs with the goal of understanding how CDOs work within their organisations, what constitutes top performance, and the challenges they face. 

Oxford: Andrew Stephen, Gillian Brooks, Michael Smets
Partner(s): General Assembly


Consumer trust in mobile reviews

This project studies how consumers trust user-generated product/service reviews when they are written on mobile vs non-mobile devices. Using data from millions of TripAdvisor hotel reviews and a series of experiments, we find that consumers appear to trust reviews from mobile devices more. This is because they believe that more effort goes into writing them on mobile devices. 

Oxford: Andrew Stephen
External: Lauren Grewal (Dartmouth College)


How posting about products in social media affects offline purchase intentions

This project examines the phenomenon of posting about desired products on social media platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest. Contrary to marketers’ hopes, we find that this can lead to consumers posting about products wanting those products less in real life. 

Oxford: Andrew Stephen
External: Lauren Grewal (Dartmouth College), Nicole Coleman (University of Pittsburgh)


Customer engineering: Increasing the appreciation for products from less preferred subcategories

People exhibit product subcategory loyalty, selecting options from their favourite subcategory, while ignoring options from non-favourite subcategories. Three studies explore strategies for increasing appreciation for non-favourite subcategories. Consumers can be trained to alter their experiential perceptive, so that non-favourite subcategories are appreciated in novel ways, resulting in increased consumption.

Oxford: Cammy Crolic
External: Chris Janiszewski


A tactile toolbox: Documenting consumer responses to haptic feedback in advertising

In this project, we examine how haptic effects (i.e., vibrotactile feedback) can augment mobile advertising effectiveness. In the marketplace, some brands have begun to distribute mobile advertisements that are accompanied with haptic effects (e.g., ads for cars where the user can “feel” it drive past via vibrotactile feedback from the mobile phone’s actuator). However, little is known about when and how this augmentation might influence advertising effectiveness, brand perceptions, or purchase intentions, and under which conditions that might be the case. Our goal is to determine the specific contextual conditions that may facilitate haptic advertising effectiveness.

Oxford: Rhonda Hadi
External: Ana Valenzuela (Baruch College)


The effect of virtual reality appeals on donation behaviour

When developing marketing communications campaigns, charitable organisations face an important choice: Should they employ positively-valenced appeals, showcasing happy victims who have benefited from the charity’s efforts? Or should they rely on negatively-valenced appeals emphasising the current distressing conditions of victims? In this project, I plan to test the efficacy of different donation appeals presented in virtual reality format.

Oxford: Rhonda Hadi


Impact of new legislation on marketing strategy and efficiency

This project examines the impact of legislation on firm’s marketing strategy setting, their competitive stance when going to market, and related shifts in marketing efficiency. Using the introduction of the Sarbanes-Oxley accounting regulations in 2002 as a quasi-experiment, the study considers 1441 companies from 52 industries over 17 years to show that regulation leads to systematic homogeneity in competitive activity and loss of efficiency, which is itself only mitigated by the largest of brands.

Oxford: Felipe Thomaz
External: John Hulland (University of Georgia), Leonce Bargeron (University of Kentucky), Chad Zutter (University of Pittsburgh)


User-generated service and satisfaction

This project considers the role of user generated service (i.e., peer technical support) and the choice of the venue where these interactions take place on consumer satisfaction with the associated brand. The study combines experiments and data gathered from service forums (>700,000 user interactions) to show that consumers evaluate service received in non-brand owned environments more highly, and that non-branded environments contribute to brand satisfaction, while firm-controlled venues do not.

Oxford: Felipe Thomaz
External: Sotires Pagiavlas (University of South Carolina)


The unusual structure of black market community networks

This project examines the pattern of communication between participants in the forums of an illicit black market located in the dark web, observed from its start to the closure of the community. The resulting social network is compared with those arising from similar communities related to legal marketplaces on the surface web (Amazon Marketplace, and eBay). The observed difference highlights greater efficiency of communication and privacy, as well as a development of resilience to law enforcement intervention.

Oxford: Felipe Thomaz
External: John Hulland (University of Georgia)


The financial incentive for digital black markets to self-terminate

This project considers the financial structure of black markets operating on the dark web and develops a mathematical proof that these markets (unlike legal counterparts) have a built-in rational expectation to cease operations. In essence, as they grow, it becomes more likely that operators will choose to close their market and steal money from customers and vendors (termed an “exit scam”). The introduction of varying levels of law enforcement pressure only serves to accelerate the process.

Oxford: Felipe Thomaz
External: Greg Clark and Alexander Wiedemann (University of South Carolina)


Driving Brand Engagement Through Online Social Influencers: An Empirical Investigation of Sponsored Blogging Campaigns

This project examines how marketers can leverage the use of bloggers to affect success, where blog post success is defined in terms of social media engagement. Using a dataset of blog campaigns, the analysis examines three types of drivers of blog post success—blogger characteristics, blog characteristics (e.g., the sentiment conveyed), and campaign characteristics—and their interplay to determine the success of a blog post. The research finds support for the important role of blogger network size, blogger-follower similarity, follower homogeneity and sentiment dimensions to determine success of a blog post. The implications of these findings for theory and practice of marketing are discussed.

Oxford: Gillian Brooks
External: Christian Hughes (University of Pittsburgh), Vanitha Swaminathan (University of Pittsburgh)


Curating an Image through Instagram: How Transparency is Co-opted by Organizations

This project examines the content depicted in Instagram photos posted by students, the organizational repurposing of these photos, and audience perceptions of the credibility and transparency of repurposed photographs. 203 Instagram photos posted by students at an elite MBA program were coded into eight categories. Results revealed that student perceptions of the relative evidentiary value and credibility of the photographs vary by photographic source as did perceptions of transparency attributed to the institution. Implications are discussed in terms of extending transparency theory to include social media and introducing a modified version of disclosure transparency as a fifth type of transparency strategy.

Oxford: Gillian Brooks
External: Jeanine Turner (Georgetown University), James Robinson (University of Dayton)


Contested Boundaries and Logics: Organizational Identity in the Subfield of Online Journalism

This project explores the changing nature of journalism as a space of contested power relations and networked communities, focusing specifically on the conditions under which certain online news organizations can participate and gain legitimacy in the emerging subfield of online journalism. There exists a unique structured space internal to the subfield of online journalism – a subfield of practices and power relations – with online organizations accumulating varying degrees of social capital in order to legitimize their role within this evolving ecology. The project is based on qualitative research (case study research and interviews) conducted over a period of 6 months with players involved in the both the field of journalism and what I have termed the subfield of online journalism in order to systemically understand how nascent organizations gain legitimacy in order to become part (as a subfield) of an established field.

Oxford: Gillian Brooks


Profiting from Posts: How Online Influencers Maintain Influence While Getting Paid

An increasing number of companies pay online broadcasters on YouTube, Instagram, or Tumblr, to talk or display their products. As the viewers discover the existence of such payments, they question the presumed impartiality of such broadcasters, thereby limiting their influence. Using data from a 15-month qualitative study of the industry, we identify two types of strategies: one related to the review process, and one related to community management that allow online broadcasters to maintain influence despite being paid, and conclude with the implications for the future of online marketing.

Oxford: Gillian Brooks
External: Mikolaj Piskorski (IMD)


 A Brand Reputation Tracker Using Social Media

This project presents a brand reputation tracker for the world’s leading global brands, based on an analysis of all Twitter comments made by the public. We measure volume and sentiment on drivers and sub-drivers of brand reputation, on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis, using the Rust-Zeithaml-Lemon customer equity driver framework. The resulting measures are housed in an online longitudinal database, and may be accessed by brand reputation researchers. We illustrate some of the kinds of analyses that are possible using the database. For example, we show how the tracker reflects important brand events, and show that drivers and sub-drivers of brand reputation vary in terms of the degree to which they reflect those events. We explore the stationarity of the drivers and sub-drivers, and analyze the interdependence pattern between the drivers and sub-drivers. Finally, we provide some important research questions that may be answered using the tracker.

Oxford: Andrew Stephen, Gillian Brooks
External: Roland Rust (University of Maryland), William Rand (North Carolina State University), Ming-Hui Huang (National Taiwan University)
Partner(s): Ossa Labs and University of Oxford Centre for Corporate Reputation


Opening up consumer data resources: the ESRC Consumer Data Research Centre

This collaborative multi-university project was established in 2015 by the UK Economic & Social Research Council as part of its Big Data Network, to contribute towards ensuring the future sustainability of UK research using consumer data and to support consumer-related organisations to maximise their innovation potential. The Centre hosts over 10,000 data sets in 68 product groups ( and in addition to providing data broking services to academic and public sector researchers, has undertaken several research projects of its own, ranging from analysis of digital connectivity, to evaluation of geographic and social mobility (

Oxford: Jonathan Reynolds
External: Paul Longley & James Cheshire (UCL), Alex Singleton (University of Liverpool), Mark Birkin (University of Leeds)
Partners: over 15 commercial data partners


The changing spatial dynamics of retailing

One metaproject undertaken by CDRC in which Oxford is closely involved is that evaluating the changing dynamics of retail locations in the UK. International retail landscapes have undergone enormous transformation in the past decade, with the rapid growth of online and multichannel shopping responding to and facilitating significant shifts in consumer behaviour. These factors have begun to alter both the form and function of many traditional consumption spaces. This project comprises analysis of retail areas, structures and catchment area demographics, including footfall. The project has a particular goal to review and revise existing classifications of retail centres better to reflect their contemporary role and nature for both public and private sector stakeholders.

Oxford: Jonathan Reynolds
External: Alex Singleton and Les Dolega (University of Liverpool)
Partners: Local Data Company


From expert to rookie: IKEA’s multichannel journey

This project explores the issues and challenges arising for a world-leading retailer attempting to become an omnichannel operator and suggests theoretical approaches that may help in understanding the evolutionary processes involved in structural changes consequent on multichannel operation for retail firms more generally. With the advent of the internet as a vehicle for e-retailing, traditional retailers are having to explore new channels, with new formats that relax the constraint of place that is the core of the store-based business model, or serve to modify its role.

Oxford: Jonathan Reynolds
External: Ulf Johansson (Lund University, Sweden)