Note from Special Issue Editor

Prabu David

Ohio State University

Although we live in a three-dimensional world, media representations of this world are primarily in two dimensions. A virtual 3-D environment is an important step forward in recreating the three-dimensional space. A number of 3-D models have been successfully employed in science, engineering and medicine, and marketers are testing some pilot systems as well. The steady decline of bandwidth limitation and the increase in computing power set the stage for 3-D shopping experiences for consumers.

At this point, the key consideration for advertisers and marketers is the potential payoffs in terms of brand equity, sales and corporate image that could be gained through the deployment of 3-D systems. While the transition from a 2-D to a 3-D shopping experience seems intuitively appealing, there are numerous design considerations that could have a significant impact on consumer adoption. First, there is the learning curve associated with navigation in 3-D spaces. It appears that consumers accustomed to the point-and-click environments of have different schema for online shopping that is qualitatively different from the experiential shopping at the mall. The paper by Jeandrain addresses this difference through a qualitative study. Her findings are quite telling. Experiential shoppers seem to prefer 3-D online environments, whereas the instrumental shopper is less impressed by it.

The next question associated with the launch of any new technology is the issue of novelty. What happens when the novelty wears out? This is an important question. Edwards and Gangdharbatla tackle this question in their paper. They find that novelty operates through a complex psychological process that is tied to the classic elaboration likelihood model involving both the cognitive and affective dimensions. They provide numerous directions for research, which should be helpful to a wide range of readers.

Presence is a broad theoretical construct that is tied to current trends in virtual reality research. In this issue, Choi, Miracle and Biocca focus on one aspect of presence, namely the sense of presence created by anthropomorphic agents. With a simple experiment, they demonstrate how the addition of an anthropomorphic agent significantly enhances both social and telepresence, which in turn has a positive effect on attitude toward the ad and purchase intentions. They also present a theoretical framework for studying presence that is both broad in scope and conceptually rigorous.

Finally, using a semiotic approach, Pennington takes on many of the constructs that are integral to interactive 3-D environments. He envisions a future where consumers can construct their own 3-D models of shopping environments. He also provides insights into the design considerations for icons, symbols and indices within 3-D environments that could yield maximum benefit for advertisers and marketers.

Together the papers in this issue provide a good introduction to an area of e-commerce that is at its infancy. The ideas presented in these papers and the directions for research advanced by the authors should be value both the academic researchers and practitioners.

The papers published in this issue were presented at an experiential e-commerce conference in East Lansing, Michigan in September 2001. The conference was part of the Networked Minds Conference Series, sponsored by the MIND (Media Interface and Network Design) Lab at Michigan State University.

About the Author

Prabu David is Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at the Ohio State University. Prabu Davidî–¸ research focuses on media and cognition. He studies the effects of interface design on human-computer interaction. His current research is on the role of motivation and goals in hypermedia interactions. Email: [email protected]