Advertising Online: A MAIN Model Perspective


“Build it and they will come” was an early assumption about how online marketing works. Today, most advertising agencies and marketing departments have their respective web teams devoted to creating and managing online advertising and marketing effort. The website, often seen as the home(page) to any product or service, tend to be overlooked as simply a medium that delivers the ad content, one that gives form to the ad or campaign. Marshall McLuhan in his pivotal theory – the medium is the message (and the massage) – urges advertisers to focus not just on the content but the medium of the content. “Media technology is not a mere vacant channel” but rater giving context to the message and shape people’s perception of the information presented (Sundar, Xu, and Dou, 2012).

In accounting the role of technology in online persuasion, Shyam Sundar (2008) theorizes the MAIN Model which classifies the affordances into four broad categories: Modality (M), Agency (A), Interactivity (I), and Navigability (N). The following figure illustrates the cognitive heuristics of each affordance, which would affect consumers’ attitudes as well as behavioral intentions toward a product or service.

The MAIN Model offers a fertile theoretical framework to understand the role of technology in online advertising and marketing. Needless to say, the medium is not the only factor to consider when investigating the effectiveness of social advertising. Another aspect of advertising that should be given serious deliberation is the audience. (Forthcoming entry.)

Cover image courtesy of

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