UNT College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism researchers are working to help minority-owned small restaurants make more informed decisions when it comes to social media advertising.
Backed by a Facebook Research grant, the year-long study will compare the effectiveness of data-driven and contextual advertising for small, independent restaurants. The interdisciplinary effort combines the expertise from Xi Yu Leung, assistant professor of hospitality and tourism management, and Jiyoung Kim, associate professor of merchandising and digital retailing. Their project was one of five chosen by Facebook recently from nearly 200 proposals around the world in its Economic Impact of Digital Technologies research awards.
The pandemic has put a damper on businesses this year, especially restaurants that have faced government mandates forcing closures or major shifts in operation.
“Many small restaurant owners had a limited advertising budget before the pandemic. Now, choosing wisely in how and where they spend their marketing dollars is even more important,” Kim says.
Data-driven advertising on Facebook targets a certain audience based on the customer demographics the advertiser selects, while contextual advertising embedded on YouTube is determined by a user’s video search habits.
For the study, Leung and Kim will first take a look at current social media advertising practices by small restaurants. Next, they will recruit 10-20 minority-owned small restaurants to participate in an experiment that compares the effectiveness of data-driven ads on Facebook and contextual ads on YouTube. They’ll monitor the performance of the advertising on both platforms for each restaurant participant over the span of a month.
“We’ll then analyze the results to determine which type of advertising was most beneficial for a restaurant owner’s investment, which can help them adopt more cost-efficient strategies for the future,” Leung says.