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Do consumers believe that native advertising pieces on media websites are written by companies—or journalists? Does the presentation of this type of content change how it is perceived?

To find out, two researchers, Chris Jay Hoofnagle and Eduard Meleshinsky, showed a simulated blog page containing three articles to 598 consumers. One of the articles was an advertorial for diet pills labeled "Sponsored Report" in a font similar to other elements on the page. Respondents were then asked questions about the blog content.

The complete findings were published in the Journal of Technology Science.

Asked where they thought the diet pill content came from, some 27% of respondents said journalists/editors working for the website wrote the material, 43% said someone else, and 29% said they did not know.

The researchers presented study participants with two versions of the diet pill content, one with a photo of the endorser in front of a plain white background, and one with the same woman in front of a blue wall of products.

Only 23% of respondents who saw the endorser in front of the white background thought she was a medical expert. However, 60% of respondents who saw the same woman in front of the blue background thought she was a medical expert.

About the research: The study was based on interviews with 598 consumers. Respondents were shown a blog page containing three articles, one of which was an advertorial for diet pills labeled "Sponsored Report."

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image of Ayaz Nanji

Ayaz Nanji is a digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Media, a marketing agency specializing in content and social media services for tech firms. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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