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Consumer Consumption

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

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A pair of faculty members from Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management recently won a research grant of $50,000 from Adobe Systems as part of an industry and academic collaboration that aims to find new ways to solve the challenges that plague today’s online marketers.

Professors Wreetabrata Kar and Mohammad Rahman are studying different drivers of knowledge consumption on the Internet to learn how a site can leverage such drivers to influence consumer behavior. In the current state, websites are constrained to making recommendations based on immediate context and may be missing out on steering the consumers toward more desirable outcomes.

“In this research, we want to disentangle the drivers of interest for each of the various offerings a company might have, based on the effect of consumers’ demographics, product specific features, and external stimuli (like social media) on consumption,” Kar says. “We intend to explore the role of geography and how that affects the different drivers of consumption.”

Toward that end, Kar and Rahman have partnered with one of the largest knowledge bases on the Internet for data, gathering information on the number of webpages visited during a session and the number of ads consumers have been shown during that period.

“Harnessing the richness of the data, we would also like to explore how satiation varies based on time spent on the website and whether ads have an impact on the satiation,” Rahman says. “Since ads are the main source of revenue for most websites, our findings will help managers to select the optimal number of ads based on the state of the visitor’s knowledge consumption funnel and progression of the consumer through the multiple web pages during a single session.”

The researchers plan to enrich their insights by identifying consumer segments based on individual behavioral traits and aggregate demographics, both of which would help managers to further refine their targeting mechanisms.

Kar, an assistant professor of marketing, works primarily on consumer engagement and targeting strategies in Internet marketing. Rahman, an associate professor of management information systems, is a pioneer in harnessing digital traces to delineate insights related to consumer behavior and actionable digital strategies.

In 2017, Adobe Systems funded a record total of $750,000 for research proposals from collaborating academicians at 15 North American universities. The investment comes in the form of an unrestricted gift to the academic institution under the names of the researchers who submitted the proposal.

Applicants for the grant were limited not only to business schools, but also included researchers specializing in computer science, machine learning, artificial intelligence and other data-analytics driven disciplines. Past winners have included faculty from NYU, MIT, Stanford, and USC, among others. Notably, Kar and Rahman are the first winners from Purdue and look forward to helping close the gap between research and practice.

“Adobe is really concerned with what academia and industry can collectively offer,” Kar says. “We value that partnership tremendously.”

For more information on the Adobe Research Awards, visit or