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2013 Winners

For the fifth time, the European Mar­keting Academy (EMAC) and the McKinsey & Company manage­ment consultancy have awarded the "EMAC McKinsey Marketing Dissertation Award" for outstanding research in the field of market­ing. The award was made public at the EMAC Annual Conference gala dinner in Istanbul on Friday, June 7, 2013.

The first-place winner, Nadia Abou Nabout, earned a EUR 7,000 cash prize for the dissertation she submitted to Goethe University Frankfurt, in Germany. Her research presents PROSAD, a fully automated system to support advertiser bids for search engine advertising. Developed in conjunction with SoQuero, an online marketing agency, PROSAD maximizes advertisers’ profit per keyword without human intervention. Nabout is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Goethe University.

Anne ter Braak, who wrote her dissertation at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, took second place. Her work examines, among other things, the benefits for national-brand manufacturers of producing private-label brands. Ter Braak is currently an assistant professor at KU Leuven, in Belgium.

Third place went to Millie Elsen, who wrote her dissertation at Tilburg University and is currently a researcher at CentERdata. Her dissertation studies the impact of even small differences in the time consumers are exposed to ads.

The "EMAC McKinsey Marketing Dissertation Award" honors the authors of outstanding dissertations on marketing topics submitted to universities in Europe, the Middle East, or Africa. This year, 48 young scholars took part in the program. Based on novelty, relevance, and conceptual rigor of their submissions, the award jury selected three finalists.

Winning dissertations

Nadia Abou Nabout, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany

PROSAD: A Bidding Decision Support System for PRofit Optimizing Search Engine ADvertising

This article reports on a large-scale implementation of marketing science models to solve the bidding problem in search engine advertising. In cooperation with the online marketing agency SoQuero, the authors developed a fully automated bidding decision support system, PROSAD (profit optimizing search engine advertising), and implemented it through the agency’s bid management software. The PROSAD system maximizes an advertiser’s profit per keyword without the need for human intervention. A closed-form solution for the optimized bid and a newly developed “costs per profit” heuristic enable advertisers to submit good bids even when there is significant noise in the data. An experiment demonstrates that PROSAD increases the return on investment by 21 percentage points and improves the yearly profit potential for SoQuero and its clients by 2.7€ million.

Anne Ter Braak, Tilburg University, the Netherlands

Private-Label Production Implications: How the Identity of the Once Faceless Supplier Matters

Many national-brand (NB) manufacturers struggle with the strategic decision to produce private labels (PLs) or not, but empirical research is lacking. This dissertation provides evidence for one of the acclaimed benefits of PL production, namely that NB manufacturers assume that it will create retailer goodwill. NB manufacturers involved in such practice for a discounter are better able to procure shelf presence for their NBs. Moreover, one of the drawbacks of PL production, i.e. that a retailer would squeeze the NB manufacturers, is rejected given that NB manufacturers involved in PL production are able to leverage higher PL wholesale prices than their dedicated PL counterparts. Retailers also struggle with their lack of knowledge on the preferable PL supply conditions. This research shows how they can improve the margins realized on their PLs by carefully monitoring their sourcing decisions.

Millie Elsen, Tilburg University, the Netherlands

Thin and Thicker Slices: How Advertising Effectiveness Depends on Exposure Duration

Consumers are exposed to rising numbers of ads for which they have falling amounts of time. This poses a serious challenge for advertisers and ad agencies who want to engage consumers with their ads, create positive impressions, and build memory for their ads and brands. The bulk of ads in crowded media such as magazines, the Internet and outdoor media receive only a quick glance. And even if people decide to stop and look, attention is only a few seconds at most. Yet, whereas much is known about ad processing and effectiveness after long exposures of 10 or 20 seconds or more and after extremely brief exposures up to 30 milliseconds, surprisingly little is known about what happens in between these two extremes. This dissertation aims to contribute to closing this knowledge gap. It examines ads that differ in the extent to which they are representative (typical) for the advertised product category. Three empirical chapters demonstrate the decisive role that exposure duration plays in attitude and memory effects of typical and atypical ads, even within the range of a few seconds.