Rodrigo Perez Vega (@rpvega) is a Lecturer in Marketing at Henley Business School. His research interests are in digital marketing, social media, and online consumer behaviour. Rodrigo received an MRes in Management (2011) by investigating the incidence of positive and negative incidence of electronic word-of-mouth on Twitter, he also has an MSc in Strategic Project Management (2010) and a BA Hons in Marketing (2006). Rodrigo’s PhD looked at how the immediacy of a Facebook Fan page affects the level of customer engagement with that page. Before his PhD, Rodrigo had marketing experience in several digital marketing and brand management roles within FMCG and service industries. He recently co-authored the book “Essentials of Digital Marketing” now available on Amazon.

Once again is that time of the year: the opening of dissertation season. I know this because the first appointments to discuss marketing dissertation topics started to arrive in my inbox this week. This is the third edition on how to find interesting and relevant topics for your marketing dissertation. If none of the ideas in this post catches your eye, you’re more than welcome to have a look at my other two posts from previous years (2017,2016).



I expect this year to be characterised by many topics around AI applications in different fields, and marketing won’t be the exception. I know this because last November when I attended the Web Summit, 80% of talks were around AI. Some of the common places where I usually recommend students to go and find ideas for your dissertation have not updated yet. For example, the Marketing Science Institute research priorities are due to be updated until next year. However, you can still go and have a look, as many of their priorities are still relevant and focus on very interesting areas of research.


So if you’re interested in a marketing/management topic related to AI, a good place to start can be looking at Call for Papers. Here is one example from the Service SIG that was published recently and that focused on customer engagement through automated service interactions. Below are a few examples of the questions that they propose:

  • Which types of service companies (e.g. small/large, B2C/B2B) are most likely to benefit from adopting automated service interactions, and what are the respective success factors and challenges characterizing these interactions?
  • How do consumers respond to automated interactions with particular service firms?
  • What are the key pros (e.g. fewer mistakes) and cons (e.g. impersonal nature) of technology-enabled customer engagement? Do these vary by context and service setting?
  • How can technology-enabled customer engagement be leveraged to drive customer purchases and loyalty throughout the customer journey, and how does it fit within the firm’s relationship marketing program?
  • What ratio of customer-to-employee/customer-to-machine interactions optimizes customer engagement, purchases and loyalty for specific service offerings?
  • Are automated service interactions more effective for retaining existing, or attracting new, customers?
  • What are the best design elements to include in automated service interactions to ensure favourable customer responses to the new technology?
  • What is the return-on-investment (ROI) of particular automated service interactions? What factors influence such ROI?
  • How can various emerging technologies, including the Internet of Things, smart devices, or wearables, be integrated with automated service interactions to create optimal value?
  • Do service firms’ traditional strategies or tactics require rethinking to thrive in environments characterized by increasingly automated service interactions?
  • How does machine learning affect technology-enabled customer engagement?
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If your thing is not AI, robots and technology, you can also look at more general call for papers within the marketing field. Elsevier, for example, has Calls for Papers on B2B marketing, Virtual Reality and marketing, advertising, digital business models, and more.

A word of caution. Many of these calls for papers are aimed at experienced researchers (i.e. your lecturers and professors!). Which means that you might have to scale down the scope of your research to be able to fit it in with the timescale constraints that you have. But choosing an interesting topic that might also be aligned with the interest of your supervisors is always a plus, and I’d say it’s a smart strategy. Just set your expectations right and discuss with the faculty at your university about your ideas.


Another interesting source of ideas for marketing dissertations this year is the Academy of Marketing website. They’re organising a series of workshops during their conference this year and they cover a wide range of relevant topics in the field of marketing, and this probably is a good place to go if you’re interested in things such as visual marketing, retail marketing, etc. You can see their full list of topics here.