OER1158 Oral Presentation

Thursday 12 May 10.25 Breakout Room 6

Justifying investment in OERs: the impact of brand placements within OERs

Theo Lynn, Laurent Muzellec & Rosemary Clancy, DCU LINK Research Centre, Dublin City University

Conference Theme: OER strategy and sustainability

Abstract: The financial sustainability of OER initiatives continues to be a widespread concern (Downes, 2007). At the same time, the higher education sector has become increasingly competitive and prospective students are adopting a consumerist approach to institution and programme choice (Maringe, 2006; Voss et al, 2007). In response, higher education marketing has become more complex, market-oriented and business-like (Nicolescu, 2009).
Marketing impact has been proposed as a possible justification for investment in OER initiatives (Lynn et al, 2010). By placing the funding of OERs within the marketing sphere and linking OER development and dissemination to student recruitment, OER evangelists may attract more funding and institutional support from the upper echelons of Higher Education Institutions. Viewed as a form of hybrid message, OERs may be attractive marketing vehicles for higher education institutions marketers by emphasizing the Higher Education Institution's brand and the quality of the Higher Education Institution's content and faculty. In many respects, OERs are analogous to product placements in that the Higher Education Institutions "product" and "brand" is placed in a planned and unobtrusive way within a media vehicle, the OER, in an attempt to influence an audience, i.e. potential future students. While the Higher Education Institution marketer’s motivation is different than the OER developer, both parties requirements can be satisfied. In fact, the Higher Education Institution's brand may already be featured and so funding the OER merely recognizes the contribution of the OER to increasing Higher Education Institution brand effects.
This paper outlines a study to test the impact of brand placements in OERs on brand attitudes. The study uses an adaptation of an experimental design to investigate the hidden impact of brand placement in television magazines (Matthes et al, 2007) to investigate the influence of frequency of placement exposure, learners' involvement and learners' persuasion knowledge on their attitudes towards HEI brand and HEI brand recall in OERs. Specifically, the paper will explore the existence of 'mere exposure effects' i.e. favourable feelings towards a stimulus, in this case the HEI brand, resulting from repeated exposure to a stimulus, even though the viewer does not remember that the stimulus exposure (Zajonc 1968, 2001, 2004; Bornstein, 1989; Bornstein & D’Agostino, P.R.). Using moderational analysis, the authors will seek to identify contextual variables that strengthen placement outcomes and inform placement design (Fang et al, 2007; Muller et al, 2005; Bornstein, 1989). The moderators being tested include frequency of HEI brand exposure, OER involvement level, and persuasion knowledge (Matthes et al, 2007). The paper will conclude with a discussion on the implications for OER design and sustainability.

Keywords: oers; sustainability; brand placement; exposure effects; brand recall


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