New York, Dec 20 (IANS) Consumers find it difficult to distinguish between online editorial content and paid advertising, a study has found.
According to the study by professors of University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in the US, the appearance of online editorial content and paid advertising was blurred in the minds of consumers.
The main difference between paid advertising and display advertising was that paid advertisement were designed to appear as if they were a part of the editorial content and the publishers, to distinguish these articles from regular editorial content, use disclosure labels, or elements that identify these articles as promotional content.
The study by Bartosz W. Wojdynski and Nathaniel J. Evans, both assistant professors, conducted two experiments using online news articles to examine whether consumers recognise sponsored articles as advertising content.
“I think that many publishers and advertisers assume that just because they put a label on the content, consumers will automatically understand that the article they are reading is a paid advertisement,” Wojdynski said.
The first experiment invited subjects to read online content featuring two stories — one that was editorial content and one that was a native, or paid ad featuring a quote from the executive of a fictitious company.
In the first experiment, only 17 of 242 viewers, or 7 percent, identified the content as advertising, and in the second eye-tracking study, only 17 percent identified the articles as advertising.
The second study used eye-tracking to determine the best position for disclosure labels within paid advertising articles.
When a paid advertisement disclosure was at the top of the page, only 40 percent of the viewers looked at it, but when the disclosure was in the middle of the page, 90 percent looked at the label.
Sixty percent of the viewers noticed advertisement labels at the bottom of a page.
“These results show that’s not the case at all, although the design of the disclosure label can make a big difference.”
The study was published in the Journal of Advertising.