Shwetha Kumar Shrayamsa

  • Shwetha Kumar ShrayamsaShwetha is originally from India. She joined Oxford Brookes University as a research student in April 2016 and the title of her thesis is ‘The potential of product placement in mobile games as an advertising strategy: A study evaluating the effectiveness through recall and recognition for Indian female consumers’.

    How did you hear about Oxford Brookes University?

    I found out about Oxford Brookes University through a Google search when I was looking to apply for a research degree programme at a university which offered Digital Marketing.

    What attracted you to Oxford Brookes University to conduct your research?

    After my masters’ degree, I was looking for universities to apply to for a doctoral degree which was credible and highly reputed. I conducted sufficient research and shortlisted universities which are highly ranked across a span of different research projects especially within the Marketing subject area. This is when I came across Oxford Brookes University. I was clear that I wanted to be a part of a university which provided a high-quality student experience and would prepare me for a career in academia. I was impressed with the research student profiles across the University and at the Faculty level which was very diverse. I found various interesting active research projects about digital marketing strategies. Most importantly, my potential supervisors’ (who are also my current supervisors, Dr Sarah Quinton and Prof Janine Dermody) research profiles; their research interests and experience attracted me to join Oxford Brookes University. Additionally, Oxford is a beautiful place to live with a strong student community presence around the city. 

    What were you doing before?

    Before commencing my PhD journey at Oxford Brookes University, I completed a Masters’ by research (MRes) at the University of Exeter. 

    Prior to starting my journey in the United Kingdom, I worked as a Lecturer at Reva First Grade College and Brindavan College in India, and as an Activation Officer at Nestle India Ltd.

    How easy did you find it to settle into the research environment?

    It was very easy for me to settle into the research environment as I had just completed my masters’ degree and produced a dissertation on consumers’ stance towards mobile games as a communication medium, a case study of Indian gamers. The PhD programme at the Business School is well structured (registration, ethics approval, transfer, and the final submission) and communicated very clearly in the induction session, which is helping me to focus and plan my work to achieve the set milestones. Both my supervisors are very supportive in various stages of the PhD programme and for the deadlines that I need to adhere to. At the beginning, the library training was particularly useful for me to know from where and how to get access to the resources available for my research. The University also offers support by providing various research training and networking events.

    Tell us about your research.

    The purpose of my research is to investigate the effectiveness of product placement through recall and recognition in mobile games as experienced by Indian female consumers.  In the last few years, with progress in technology, the ways of advertising are changing as advertisers look for new avenues of reaching the target consumers. Product placement is a creative and productive tool in the promotion mix which combines the advertisement with the entertainment, blurring the advertised content. Creating awareness using product placement strategy has been the main goal of advertisers. Although movies and television programmes have been popular choices for product placement because of its wide reach, over the past few years, it has expanded to other forms of media like video games, computer games and games played on social networking platforms.  

    A mobile phone is the easiest form of entertainment whilst on the move. Mobile games are an interactive and engaging platform, it provides a way for gamers to interact with the products placed in the game than just being mere passive viewers of advertisements. Many video games are now moving to the mobile platform to increase their audience reach. Digital games are traditionally associated with men. But with the increased use of mobile devices, games have also attracted a lot of women consumers. Mehta (2016) highlights that Indian women are outplaying men in mobile games. Men and women approach and interpret advertisements with different motives and perspectives. The growing number of women playing mobile games, the increase in disposable family income, and their response to media can have a positive impact for gaming companies in India, attracting advertisers to reach these women gamers. Thus, the underpinning idea of this study is to conduct gender-specific research examining the effectiveness of product placement through recall and recognition in an interactive and engaging platform like mobile games. Furthermore, this research will be conducted in a naturalistic environment to explore the opportunities and limitations with product-placement strategy in a hand-held environment. 

    My project will employ a mixed methods research approach, where the participants will be asked to play a game on their smartphones and answer a questionnaire after playing the game. Additionally, in order to understand the perspectives of the participants about the game and their experiences of the product placement concept in detail, semi-structured interviews will be conducted. This research will develop a product placement framework. 

    What do you enjoy about being a research student?

    I enjoy being a research student primarily because it gives me an opportunity to explore my research topic in detail with a new perspective; to read different theories and other researchers’ insights about the topic and at the same time see the practical implementation. Although it is a journey of my choice, there are times when I am muddled and look for guidance. My supervisors have always been supportive and guiding me at all stages. I am always supercharged after meetings with my supervisors who constantly encourage me to work hard and produce quality work within the agreed deadlines.

    The challenging aspect so far in my PhD journey is to maintain consistency with my work. ‘Being efficient and systematic’ has been my mantra until now; to constantly discipline myself and plan my day-to-day activities. I strongly believe that it is important to break long-term goals into working short-term goals and each time I accomplish a goal I list it and reward myself! I feel with these little rewards, along with the list of accomplishments, motivates me to work hard in the long run. 

    What do you think about the research training offered at Oxford Brookes?

    The training events at Oxford Brookes University are plentiful and communicated in advance. The Graduate College Training Programme including time management, tackling the writing stage, media training workshop and data management and storage have helped me to learn strategies for careful planning and execution, and has allowed me to be productive throughout my PhD journey. I find the career and personality development training to be very engaging and covers a span of training programmes from how to write a job application, how to get a job and the interview skills required for researchers in academia. Courses also focus on non-academic jobs; enhancing personal effectiveness as a researcher through the MBTI framework, for example, has been beneficial for me, as I am aware of the opportunities that I can look for and how to apply. Seminars from the Oxford Brookes Business School such as the 20-20 seminars every semester, International Research Conference and Biennial Doctoral Event provides an opportunity to interact with guest speakers and different PhD students and listen to a range of research methods, the data collection process, and the challenges. I have attended many seminars and training from the very beginning of my PhD journey and will continue to attend, this is helping me to enhance my skills set and learn new concepts which are valuable as an early career researcher. 

    What are your future plans?

    After completing my PhD, I aspire to continue my career in academia as a priority. However, if I become aware of some interesting market research work in any company, I am open to that as well.