Non-Informational Advertising Informing Consumers: How Advertising Affects Consumers' Decision-Making in the U.S. Auto Insurance Industry



We investigate the relationship between both advertising content and quantity and several stages of consumers' decision-making, namely, unaided and aided awareness, search (consideration), and purchase. Understanding how the amount and content of advertisements affect consumers' decision-making is crucial for companies to effectively and effciently use their advertising budgets. Our unique individual-level data contain information on consumers' purchases, consideration and awareness sets, demographic variables, and perceived prices for consumers between 2008 and 2016. We supplement these data with data on advertising quantities for all and advertising content for the main three media channels (TV, Internet, and magazines). We account for the endogeneity of the advertising decision using the regression discontinuity approach suggested by Shapiro (2018). Our results reveal that advertising quantity signifcantly increases consumer (unaided and aided) awareness, but has no effect on consideration and choice - a finding consistent with the informative role of advertising. Interestingly, the advertising content that leads to consumers' increased awareness is of non-informational nature implying that the effect on awareness is coming from non-informational content leading to better brand recall. And lastly, our results show no evidence of vulnerable consumers being adversely affected by advertising.