Hayes, Jameson L., Karen Whitehill King and Artemio Ramirez. (2016) “Brands, Friends, & Viral Advertising: A Social Exchange Perspective on the Ad Referral Brands, Friends, & Viral Advertising: A Social Exchange Perspective on the Ad Referral,” Journal of Interactive Marketing 36, 31-45.
Abstract: Advertisers worldwide are designing advertising with an eye toward viral activity particularly within social networking sites such as Facebook. Yet, little is known about the social processes at play when ads are shared. Taking a consumer-centric approach, this study investigates the social processes central to ads going viral within the Social Web. Conducting a national online experiment, the intertwining roles of brand relationships, interpersonal relationships, and sharing motivations in the social exchange of advertising are explored by testing two proposed referral decision-making processes: referral and referral acceptance. Results suggest that brand relationships and interpersonal relationships impact referral of ads within SNSs, and brand relationships interact with sharing motivations to impact decisions; specifically, brand relationships are conduits for ensuring reciprocal altruism in exchange, but their influence is tempered within stronger interpersonal relationships. Practical and theoretical implications are discussed.