Changing the game: The effects of cognitive load and brand prominence on covert advertising recognition.

Accepted for presentation at the AMA Marketing and Public Policy Conference (MPPC), Washington, D.C.

ABSTRACT: The present study (N=82) employed a 2 (advertisement format: advergame vs. video commercial) x 2 (brand prominence: low (Asus) vs. high (KFC)) between-subjects factorial experiment to investigate the effect of advertising format on advertising recognition and cognitive load. Findings show that advergames, in comparison to online video commercials, are more difficult for consumers to recognize as advertising and this effect is enhanced under conditions where brand prominence is low (vs high).  This study suggests that both advertising format and brand prominence can serve as cues that a message is advertising. We believe that the psychological mechanisms behind the effects of these two message characteristics are distinct and have implications for development of theory. The findings provided in the current study suggest, to both regulators and practitioners that use covert tactics, that brand prominence is one avenue worth considering when consumer recognition of covert advertising is at stake.

Nathaniel J. Evans  Michael Harman  Bartosz Wojdynski 

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