Yingfei Wang receives Amazon Research Award for online advertising work

Yingfei Wang

Yingfei Wang, an assistant professor of information systems at the University of Washington Foster School of Business, has received a prestigious—and prodigious—Amazon Research Award.

Amazon Research Awards provide unrestricted funds and Amazon Web Services (AWS) promotional credits to an extremely select group of academic researchers investigating topics that support Amazon’s mission to advance customer-obsessed science. They also offer the opportunity to connect with industry practitioners to inspire new insights.

Wang, who joined Foster’s Department of Information Systems and Operations Management in 2017, was one of five recipients of awards for research in advertising. Hers will support work to understand the effectiveness of video advertising—and, more specifically, the new wave of video advertising known as “outstream.”

Instream, meet outstream

Whereas conventional instream video ads are delivered pre-roll, mid-roll or post-roll within a video on platforms such as YouTube, outstream video ads turn up in non-video environments such as news and online shopping websites. The video begins to play as a user navigates to it.

Despite the emergence and increasing popularity of outstream video advertising, research has yet to measure its effectiveness in driving clicking and conversion actions.

Wang’s work will investigate this new mode of advertising with unstructured data analytics and economic analysis. And it will seek to answer several questions:

  1. What is the relative effectiveness of sponsored outstream video ads on consumer behavior?
  2. Under what conditions are video ads more effective?
  3. What is the externality of sponsored outstream video ads on other products?

“Answers to these questions will not only deepen our understanding of the effects of video sponsored ads in online shopping platform and provide guidelines for outstream video ad design, but they also will have theoretical implications for consumer behavior towards video ads,” Wang says.

“Ultimately, the better understanding of video content and effectiveness from this research will benefit the ad selection and delivery mechanism which will eventually contribute to a better shopping experience, where Amazon shoppers see informative, relevant, and delightful video ads during their shopping journey.”

Potential impact

Project submissions to the Amazon Advertising call for proposals were reviewed based on their potential impact to the research community, quality of the scientific content and relevance for Amazon Advertising customers.

Wang and the other recipients have access to more than 300 Amazon public datasets, and can utilize AWS AI/ML services and tools through their AWS Promotional Credits. Recipients also are assigned an Amazon research contact who offers consultation and advice along with opportunities to participate in Amazon events and training sessions.

Additionally, Amazon encourages the publication of research results, presentations of research at Amazon offices worldwide, and the release of related code under open-source licenses.

“The world of advertising has radically transformed in the past few years, and is expected to further change tremendously in the coming years,” says Oded Netzer, Amazon Scholar and Arthur J. Samberg Professor of Business at Columbia University. “We are very happy to collaborate with our grant recipients, using state-of-the-art research to better address our customers’ needs in this dynamic environment.”