Elaboration likelihood and readers' perceptions of native advertising on news websites

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University of Alabama Libraries

This research examines native advertising on news websites through the lens of the Elaboration Likelihood Model. It seeks to determine factors that influence whether readers identify and trust native advertisements. These ads often appear and read similar to real news stories that have been written by journalists rather than sponsored content meant to persuade. Native advertisements have become prevalent on many news websites, with some outlets having in-house studios dedicated to creating them. They are designed to blend in with the rest of the website and not detract from it. There have been several recent studies on native advertisements, but there are still gaps, such as the effects of different types of design and the use of mobile phones, which the majority of mobile ads are targeted toward. For this study, an experiment was conducted that exposed four groups of participants to one of four articles, two of which were real stories and two of which were native advertisements. The results indicate that very few factors, relative to the readers or the native advertisements, bear any relation to readers’ identification of the ads. No matter what, very few are able to tell the difference between news and native ads. But even after being made aware of the nature of native ads, people seem not to care.

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