Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton April 4, 2020

Advertising in disguise? How disclosure and content features influence the effects of native advertising

  • Johannes Beckert EMAIL logo , Thomas Koch , Benno Viererbl , Nora Denner and Christina Peter
From the journal Communications


Native advertising has recently become a prominent buzzword for advertisers and publishers alike. It describes advertising formats which closely adapt their form and style to the editorial environment they appear in, intending to hide the commercial character of these ads. In two experimental studies, we test how advertising disclosures in native ads on news websites affect recipients’ attitudes towards a promoted brand in a short and long-term perspective. In addition, we explore persuasion through certain content features (i. e., message sidedness and use of exemplars) and how they affect disclosure effects. Results show that disclosures increase perceived persuasive intent but do not necessarily decrease brand attitudes. However, disclosure effects do not persist over time and remain unaffected by content features.


This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.


Allen, M. (1991). Meta-analysis comparing the persuasiveness of one-sided and two-sided messages. Western Journal of Speech Communication, 55(4), 390–404. in Google Scholar

Allen, M. (1998). Comparing the persuasive effectiveness of one- and two-sided messages. In M. Allen & R. W. Preiss (Eds.), Persuasion: Advances through meta-analysis (pp. 87–98). Cresskill, MJ: Hampton Press.Search in Google Scholar

Amazeen, M. A., & Muddiman, A. R. (2017). Saving media or trading on trust? The effects of native advertising on audience perceptions of legacy and online news publishers. Digital Journalism, 6(2), 176–195. in Google Scholar

Arpan, L. M. (2009). The effects of exemplification on perceptions of news credibility. Mass Communication and Society, 12(3), 249–270. in Google Scholar

Arpan, L. M., & Roskos-Ewoldsen, D. R. (2005). Stealing thunder: Analysis of the effects of proactive disclosure of crisis information. Public Relations Review, 31(3), 425–433. in Google Scholar

Boerman, S. C., & van Reijmersdal, E. A. (2016). Informing consumers about hidden advertising: A literature review of the effects of disclosing sponsored content. In P. de Pelsmacker (Ed.), Advertising in new formats and media: Current research and implications for marketers (pp. 115–146). London: Emerald Group Publishing.10.1108/978-1-78560-313-620151005Search in Google Scholar

Boerman, S. C., van Reijmersdal, E. A., & Neijens, P. C. (2012). Sponsorship disclosure: Effects of duration on persuasion knowledge and brand responses. Journal of Communication, 62(6), 1047–1064. in Google Scholar

Boerman, S. C., van Reijmersdal, E. A., & Neijens, P. C. (2014). Effects of sponsorship disclosure timing on the processing of sponsored content: A study on the effectiveness of European disclosure regulations. Psychology & Marketing, 31(3), 214–224. in Google Scholar

Brehm, J. (1966). A theory of psychological reactance. New York: Academic Press.Search in Google Scholar

Brehm, S., & Brehm, J. (1981). Psychological reactance: A theory of freedom and control. New York: Academic Press.10.1016/B978-0-12-129840-1.50020-XSearch in Google Scholar

Brosius, H.-B., & Bathelt, A. (1994). The utility of exemplars in persuasive communications. Communication Research, 21(1), 48–78.10.1177/009365094021001004Search in Google Scholar

Campbell, M. C., & Kirmani, A. (2000). Consumersʼ use of persuasion knowledge: The effects of accessibility and cognitive capacity on perceptions of an influence agent. Journal of Consumer Research, 27(1), 69–83. in Google Scholar

Campbell, M. C., & Kirmani, A. (2008). I know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it: The use of the Persuasion Knowledge Model in consumer research. In C. Haugvedt, P. M. Herr, & F. R. Kardes (Eds.), Handbook of consumer psychology (pp. 549–571). New York, London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Search in Google Scholar

Carlson, M. (2015). When news sites go native: Redefining the advertising-editorial divide in response to native advertising. Journalism, 16(7), 849–865. in Google Scholar

Carr, C. T., & Hayes, R. (2014). The effect of disclosure of third-party influence on an opinion leaderʼs credibility and electronic word of mouth in two-step flow. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 14(1), 38–50. in Google Scholar

Coddington, M. (2015). The wall becomes a curtain: Revisiting journalismʼs news-business boundary. In M. Carlson & S. C. Lewis (Eds.), Shaping inquiry in culture, communication and media studies. Boundaries of journalism: Professionalism, practices and participation (pp. 67–82). London, New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.Search in Google Scholar

Crowley, A. E., & Hoyer, W. D. (1994). An integrative framework for understanding two-sided persuasion. Journal of Consumer Research, 20(2), 561–574.10.1086/209370Search in Google Scholar

Daschmann, G. (2000). Vox pop & polls: The impact of poll results and voter statements in the media on the perception of a climate of opinion. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 12(2), 160–181. in Google Scholar

Daschmann, G., & Brosius, H.-B. (1999). Can a single incident create an issue? Exemplars in German television magazine shows. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 76(1), 35–51.10.1177/107769909907600104Search in Google Scholar

Donsbach, W., & Klett, B. (1993). Subjective objectivity: How journalists in four countries define a key term of their profession. Gazette, 51, 53–83.10.1177/001654929305100104Search in Google Scholar

Einstein, B. R. (2015). Reading between the lines: The rise of native advertising and the FTCʼs inability to regulate it. Brooklyn Journal of Corporate, Financial & Commercial Law, 10(1), 225–248.Search in Google Scholar

Eisend, M. (2006). Two-sided advertising: A meta-analysis. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 23(2), 187–198. in Google Scholar

Eisend, M. (2007). Understanding two-sided persuasion: An empirical assessment of theoretical approaches. Psychology and Marketing, 24(7), 615–640. in Google Scholar

Erdogan, B. Z. (1999). Celebrity endorsement: A literature review. Journal of Marketing Management, 15(4), 291–314. in Google Scholar

Evans, N. J., & Hoy, M. G. (2016). Parentsʼ presumed persuasion knowledge of childrenʼs advergames: The influence of advertising disclosure modality and cognitive load. Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising, 37(2), 146–164. in Google Scholar

Evans, N. J., & Park, D. (2015). Rethinking the Persuasion Knowledge Model: Schematic antecedents and associative outcomes of persuasion knowledge activation for covert advertising. Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising, 36(2), 157–176. in Google Scholar

Feick, L., & Higie, R. (1992). The effects of preference heterogeneity and source characteristics on ad processing and judgements about endorsers. Journal of Advertising, 21(2), 9–24.10.1080/00913367.1992.10673364Search in Google Scholar

Feldman, R. H. L. (1984). The influence of communicator characteristics on the nutrition attitudes and behavior of High School Students. Journal of School Health, 54(4), 149–151. in Google Scholar

Ferrer Conill, R. (2016). Camouflaging church as state: An exploratory study of journalismʼs native advertising. Journalism Studies, 17(7), 904–914. in Google Scholar

Friestad, M., & Wright, P. (1994). The Persuasion Knowledge Model: How people cope with persuasion attempts. Journal of Consumer Research, 21(1), 1–31. in Google Scholar

Gruder, C. L., Cook, T. D., Hennigan, K. M., Flay, B. R., Alessis, C. A., & Halamaj, J. (1978). Empirical tests of the absolute sleeper effect predicted from the discounting cue hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 36(10), 1061–1074. in Google Scholar

Hackett, R. A. (2008). Objectivity in reporting. In W. Donsbach (Ed.), The international encyclopedia of communication. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.10.1002/9781405186407.wbieco001Search in Google Scholar

Hayes, A. (2018). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach (2nd ed.). Methodology in the social sciences. New York, London: The Guilford Press.Search in Google Scholar

Hovland, C. I., & Weiss, W. (1951). The influence of source credibility on communication effectiveness. Public Opinion Quarterly, 15(4), 635–650.10.1086/266350Search in Google Scholar

Keib, K., & Tatge, M. (2016, August). Is that news story an ad? News homepage design may mislead consumers into sponsored content. Annual Conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), Minneapolis, USA.Search in Google Scholar

Kim, B.-H., Pasadeos, Y., & Barban, A. (2001). On the deceptive effectiveness of labeled and unlabeled advertorial formats. Mass Communication and Society, 4(3), 265–281. in Google Scholar

Knoll, J., & Matthes, J. (2017). The effectiveness of celebrity endorsements: A meta-analysis. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 45(1), 55–75. in Google Scholar

Koch, T., & Zerback, T. (2013). Helpful or harmful? How frequent repetition affects perceived statement credibility. Journal of Communication, 63(6), 993–1010. in Google Scholar

Kozinets, R. V., de Valck, K., Wojnicki, A. C., & Wilner, S. J. S. (2010). Networked narratives: Understanding word-of-mouth marketing in online communities. Journal of Marketing, 74, 71–89.10.1509/jm.74.2.71Search in Google Scholar

Kumkale, G. T., & Albarracín, D. (2004). The sleeper effect in persuasion: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 130(1), 143–172. in Google Scholar

Lefevere, J., de Swert, K., & Walgrave, S. (2012). Effects of popular exemplars in television news. Communication Research, 39(1), 103–119. in Google Scholar

Leiner, D. J. (2016). Our research’s breadth lives on convenience samples: A case study of the online respondent pool “SoSci Panel”. SC|M Studies in Communication and Media, 5(4), 367–396.10.5771/2192-4007-2016-4-367Search in Google Scholar

Martin, B., Wentzel, D., & Tomczak, T. (2008). Effects of susceptibility to normative influence and type of testimonial on attitudes toward print advertising. Journal of Advertising, 37(1), 29–43. in Google Scholar

Matteo, S., & Dal Zotto, C. (2015). Native advertising, or how to stretch editorial to sponsored content within a transmedia branding era. In G. Siegert, K. Förster, S. M. Chan-Olmsted, & M. Ots (Eds.), Handbook of media branding (pp. 169–185). Cham: Springer International Publishing.10.1007/978-3-319-18236-0_12Search in Google Scholar

Matthes, J., Schemer, C., & Wirth, W. (2007). More than meets the eye: Investigating the hidden impact of brand placements in television magazines. International Journal of Advertising, 26(4), 477–503.10.1080/02650487.2007.11073029Search in Google Scholar

Moore, J., & Rodgers, S. (2005). An examination of advertising credibility and skepticism in five different media using the Persuasion Knowledge Model. In American Academy of Advertising Conference Proceedings (pp. 10–18).Search in Google Scholar

Moyer-Gusé, E., Jain, P., & Chung, A. H. (2012). Reinforcement or reactance? Examining the effect of an explicit persuasive appeal following an entertainment-education narrative. Journal of Communication, 62(6), 1010–1027. in Google Scholar

Obermiller, C., & Spangenberg, E. R. (1998). Development of a scale to measure consumer skepticism toward advertising. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 7(2), 159–186. in Google Scholar

OʼKeefe, D. J. (1987). The persuasive effects of delaying identification of high- and low-credibility communicators: A meta-analytic review. Central States Speech Journal, 38(2), 63–72.10.1080/10510978709368231Search in Google Scholar

OʼKeefe, D. J. (1999). How to handle opposing arguments in persuasive messages: A meta-analytic review of the effects of one-sided and two-sided messages. Annals of the International Communication Association, 22(1), 209–249. in Google Scholar

Pechmann, C. (1992). Predicting when two-sided ads will be more effective than one-sided ads: The role of correlational and correspondent inferences. Journal of Marketing Research, 29(4), 441–453.10.1177/002224379202900405Search in Google Scholar

Perry, S. D., & Gonzenbach, W. J. (1997). Effects of news exemplification extended: Considerations of controversiality and perceived future opinion. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 41(2), 229–244. in Google Scholar

Pornpitakpan, C. (2004). The persuasiveness of source credibility: A critical review of five decadesʼ evidence. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 34(2), 243–281. in Google Scholar

Price, L. L., Feick, L., & Higie, R. (1989). Preference heterogeneity and coorientation as determinants of perceived informational influence. Journal of Business Research, 19(3), 227–242. in Google Scholar

Schauster, E. E., Ferrucci, P., & Neill, M. S. (2016). Native advertising is the new journalism: How deception affects social responsibility. American Behavioral Scientist, 60(12), 1408–1424. in Google Scholar

Scherr, S., & Müller, P. (2016). How perceived persuasive intent and reactance contribute to third-person perceptions: Evidence from two experiments. Mass Communication and Society, 20(3), 315–335. in Google Scholar

Schlosser, A. E. (2005). Source perceptions and the persuasiveness of internet word-of-mouth communication. In G. Menon & A. R. Rao (Eds.), Advances in consumer research (vol. 32, pp. 202–203). Duluth, MN: Association for Consumer Research.Search in Google Scholar

Shen, L., & Bigsby, E. (2013). The effects of message features: Content, structure and style. In J. P. Dillard & L. Shen (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of persuasion: Developments in theory and practice (pp. 20–35). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.10.4135/9781452218410.n2Search in Google Scholar

Stewart, D. D., & Martin, I. (1994). Intended and unintended consequences of warning messages: A review and synthesis of empirical research. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 13(1), 1–19.10.1177/074391569401300101Search in Google Scholar

Sweetser, K. D., Ahn, S. J., Golan, G. J., & Hochman, A. (2016). Native advertising as a new public relations tactic. American Behavioral Scientist, 60(12), 1442–1457. in Google Scholar

Terblanche-Smit, M., van Huyssteen, L., & Du Preez, R. (2015). Advertising execution styles matter: A fear-based experiment on attitude, susceptibility, efficacy and behaviour. In C. Campbell & J. J. Ma (Eds.), Developments in marketing science. Looking forward, looking back: Drawing on the past to shape the future of marketing: Proceedings of the 2013 World Marketing Congress (1st ed., pp. 116–126). Cham: Springer International Publishing.10.1007/978-3-319-24184-5_31Search in Google Scholar

Tormala, Z. L., Briñol, P., & Petty, R. E. (2006). When credibility attacks: The reverse impact of source credibility on persuasion. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 42(5), 684–691. in Google Scholar

Tutaj, K., & van Reijmersdal, E. A. (2012). Effects of online advertising format and persuasion knowledge on audience reactions. Journal of Marketing Communications, 18(1), 5–18. in Google Scholar

van Reijmersdal, E. A., Fransen, M. L., van Noort, G., Opree, S. J., Vandeberg, L., Reusch, S., …, Boerman, S. C. (2016). Effects of disclosing sponsored content in blogs: How the use of resistance strategies mediates effects on persuasion. The American Behavioral Scientist, 60(12), 1458–1474. in Google Scholar

Wei, M.-L., Fischer, E., & Main, K. J. (2008). An examination of the effects of activating persuasion knowledge on consumer response to brands engaging in covert marketing. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 27(1), 34–44.10.1509/jppm.27.1.34Search in Google Scholar

Williams, K. D., Bourgeois, M. J., & Croyle, R. T. (1993). The effects of stealing thunder in criminal and civil trials. Law and Human Behavior, 17(6), 597–609. in Google Scholar

Wogalter, M. S., & Laughery, K. R. (1996). WARNING! Sign and label effectiveness. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 5(2), 33–37. in Google Scholar

Wojdynski, B. W., Bang, H., Keib, K., Jefferson, B. N., Choi, D., & Malson, J. L. (2017). Building a better native advertising disclosure. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 17(2), 150–161. in Google Scholar

Wojdynski, B. W., & Evans, N. J. (2016). Going native: Effects of disclosure position and language on the recognition and evaluation of online native advertising. Journal of Advertising, 45(2), 157–168. in Google Scholar

Wojdynski, B. W., Evans, N. J., & Hoy, M. G. (2018). Measuring sponsorship transparency in the age of native advertising. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 52(1), 115–137. in Google Scholar

Wood, W., & Quinn, J. M. (2003). Forewarned and forearmed? Two meta-analysis syntheses of forewarnings of influence appeals. Psychological Bulletin, 129(1), 119–138. in Google Scholar

Wu, C., & Shaffer, D. R. (1987). Susceptibility to persuasive appeals as a function of source credibility and prior experience with the attitude object. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(4), 677–688. in Google Scholar

Wu, M., Huang, Y., Li, R., Bortree, D. S., Yang, F., Xiao, A., & Wang, R. (2016). A tale of two sources in native advertising. American Behavioral Scientist, 60(12), 1492–1509. in Google Scholar

Zerback, T., & Peter, C. (2018). Exemplar effects on public opinion perception and attitudes: The moderating role of exemplar involvement. Human Communication Research, 44(2), 176–196. in Google Scholar

Zillmann, D., & Brosius, H.-B. (2000). Exemplification theory. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2020-04-04
Published in Print: 2020-09-25

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Downloaded on 8.2.2023 from
Scroll Up Arrow