My doctoral thesis deals with consumer reactions to different forms of third-party sponsored content in a digital environment. Third-party sponsored content refers to sponsored content, which is designed and communicated by a speaker other than the sponsoring brand or the company and distributed through the digital channels of the speaker. The speaker in this case is a media company or a social media influencer.
While research confirm sponsored content as an effective way to persuade consumers, it also demonstrates negative effects from an ethical perspective where consumers feel betrayed or misguided by the hidden persuasion that characterizes this advertising format. These mixed results prove that there is a need to distinguish between different types of sponsored content, thus today there are remarkable differences between the display, the layout, the distribution and the online environment of sponsored content. I will fill the gap by developing a more comprehensive framework of sponsored content effectiveness that can be applied by marketers and media companies.
Moreover, my research will provide implications for how to communicate honesty and transparency in sponsored content to generate loyalty from consumers, but still keep the persuasiveness of the advertising message. I am exploring the impact of advertising content, advertising context, and the advertising communicator, on consumers’ processing of the sponsored content, in 4 different case studies. In all of these case studies a specific form of sponsored content is used. These include sponsored blog posts, sponsored video content, and sponsored posts in social media.
All studies are conducted by using an experimental design, where participants are exposed to a real advertisement in one of conducted by using an experimental design, where participants are exposed to a real advertisement in one of the formats mentioned. Participants’ reactions are measured using both a quantitative and qualitative approach with web analytic tools, eye-tracking techniques, interview and survey methods.