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"Eye-to-eye with leading European business schools"

Study on Google search ads: The young Passau researcher Dr. Sebastian Schubach is the only German to have made it into the top flight in the most important Europe-wide competition for the best PHD theses on marketing.

Dr. Sebastian Schubach

Dr. Sebastian Schubach, Chair of Marketing and Innovationn, University of Passau

Dr. Sebastian Schubach, academic civil servant on limited appointment at the Chair of Business Administration with the emphasis on Marketing and Innovation, was the only German to make it into the top flight at the most important Europe-wide competition for the best PHD theses on marketing. With his dissertation 'Caught between two stools? Four essays on value creation and value extraction on free digital platforms', he got third place in the EMAC / Sheth Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Competition. As for the final of the competition and the ceremony itself, at which the awards are made annually by the European Marketing Academy, the scientist had to attend them on screen; they had to be held virtually because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘I was already delighted when I got the news that I was among the finalists in this year's competition. But when all's said and done, the award is not just a nice reward for me personally for the time I spent researching for my doctorate, but also a recognition of the outstanding work done at our chair and our university. In particular, I would like to thank Professor Jan Hendrik Schumann, my co-authors and our team at the chair for their support.’

So in just a short period of time, the University of Passau has produced two award-winners, positioning itself at European level as a top-class environment for young researchers.

Professor Jan Hendrik Schumann, Holder of the Chair of Marketing and Innovation, University of Passau

The holder of the chair, Professor Jan Hendrik Schumann, was also delighted: ‘Winning through at European level at such a high standard is a really excellent performance, which deserves great respect and makes me very proud as a supervisor.’ 

For Schumann the award is, from a certain point of view, a double success: in 2015, another doctoral researcher from his chair, Dr Eva Anderl, won the dissertation prize of the EMAC (known at that time as the European Marketing Association). ‘So in just a short period of time, the University of Passau has produced two award-winners, positioning itself at European level as a top-class environment for young researchers’, says Schumann. ‘That puts us right up eye-to-eye with other leading German and European universities and business schools.’

How do we react to Google search ads? Study brings new insights

In his study, presented in the context of the competition, Schubach occupied himself with retargeting in
search engine marketing. ‘We're already familiar with retargeting from other areas of advertising such as on-line ads and e-mails. In it, advertising content is individually adjusted to suit consumers' previous on-line behaviour’, he explains. Since 2012, thanks to the feature 'Remarketing Lists for Search Ads' (RLSA), it has also been possible for enterprises to readdress consumers on search engines if they previously visited their on-line shop. Google ads can thus be placed selectively for users or their contents can be adjusted. ‘That way, from both a practical and a scientific perspective, the RLSA feature brings together two highly relevant areas, and the extent to which they intersect needs to be researched’, says Schubach, summing up.

Support from international practice partners

For these reasons, he and his co-authors occupy themselves in the study quite specifically with the question of how consumers react to the position of a Google search ad when they have already previously visited the on-line shop of the advertiser and displayed a certain kind of purchasing behaviour there. ‘To answer that question, we carried out two field studies with Crealytics, a provider of on-line marketing technology and services. The results of the study now enable us to make recommendations for action to agencies and other enterprises that advertise’, says Schubach. ‘In Crealytics, we had a practice partner who maintains contact with science and places great value on the scientific soundness of his own work. That close and trusting collaboration was an important element in this success.’ 

The award has shown that the topics I address not only have great practical and theoretical relevance, but also that my scientific training has enabled me to meet the very high quality demands of international top-flight research.

Dr. Sebastian Schubach, Chair of Marketing and Innovation

Sebastian Schubach completed his masters programme in Cultural Economy and Business Administration at the University of Passau, with top-class results in both courses. In 2019, he received his doctorate with honours at the Chair of Business Administration with the emphasis on Marketing and Innovation and has, since then, been working for the university as an academic civil servant on limited appointment. Now, the placing he achieved in the award, endowed with 1000 euros, will provide some following wind for Schubach's future research. ‘The award has shown that the topics I address not only have great practical and theoretical relevance, but also that my scientific training has enabled me to meet the very high quality demands of international top-flight research.’

With the award, Sebastian Schubach has come full circle at a personal level too: ‘The EMAC in 2014, in Valencia, was my first big scientific conference. Then, in 2017, I was part of the doctoral colloquium of the EMAC, with precisely the same topic, which has, since then, somehow been rather close to my heart. And now, three years further down the line, here I am among the award-winners myself – which means, of course, that things have developed very nicely for me.’

Text: Anja Schuster

Professor Jan Schumann

Professor Jan Hendrik Schumann

researches B2C relationships

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Professor Jan Hendrik Schumann has held the Chair of Marketing and Innovation of the University of Passau since 2012. Since July 2013, he has also worked a director of the Institute of Market and Economic Research.

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