Is scarcity effective? An exploration of ad scarcity effect on recall and attention
Al Hitmi, Hitmi Khalifa
Scarcity appeals have been widely employed within marketing, however scholarly understanding has focussed primarily on scarcity of products within ads, and not the scarcity of the ad itself. Ad scarcity has become an important area of investigation due to the prevalence of scarce ads (one-time view ads) shown in popular social media technologies such as Snapchat and Instagram. To address the gap of understanding on ad scarcity, this thesis offers the first exploration of the effect of “scarcity of the ad” on participant’s attention and recall. Three experiments support the argument that scarcity of the ad has a positive effect on people’s attention and recall of the ad’s content. Moreover, boundary conditions to this positive effect were established, first based on personal traits such as FOMO and Social Media Intensity levels, and second, based on the presence of a visible countdown timer. Lastly, this thesis finds the positive effect is not limited to the directly viewed scarce ad, but spill-overs to subsequent ads which are not scarce. This thesis contributes to the knowledge of scarcity within marketing, and broader literature on social media marketing. Theoretical and managerial implications are discussed.