Timing of adaptive web personalization and its effects on online consumer behavior

Shuk Ying Ho, David Bodoff, Kar Yan Tam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Web personalization allows online merchants to customize Web content to serve the needs of individual customers. Using data mining and clickstream analysis techniques, merchants can now adapt website content in real time to capture the current preferences of online customers. Though the ability to offer adaptive content in real time opens up new business opportunities for online merchants, it also raises questions of timing. One question is when to present personalized content to consumers. Consumers prefer early presentation that eases their selection process, whereas adaptive systems can make better personalized content if they are allowed to collect more consumers' clicks over time. A review of personalization research confirms that little work has been done on these timing issues in the context of personalized services. The current study aims to fill that gap. Drawing on consumer search theory, we develop hypotheses about consumer responses to differences in presentation timing and recommendation type and the interaction between the two. The findings establish that quality improves over the course of an online session but the probability of considering and accepting a given recommendation diminishes over the course of the session. These effects are also shown to interact with consumer expertise, providing insights on the interplay between the different design elements of a personalization strategy.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)660-679
Number of pages20
JournalInformation Systems Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Consumer search theory
  • Online shopping
  • Timing
  • Web personalization

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems and Management
  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Management Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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