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

Paper presented at the AMA Marketing and Public Policy Conference (MPPC), Washington, D.C.

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of advertising format and cognitive load in shaping the effect of covert advertisements on participants advertising recognition and outcomes. In a 2 (advertisement format: advergame vs. video commercial) x 2 (brand prominence: low (Asus) vs. high (KFC)) between-subjects factorial experiment (N = 82), participants were asked to view and interact with a covert advertisement, and subsequently complete dependent measures. The findings indicate that high brand prominence appears to counteract the effects of the covert features associated with advergames in general, thus leading to higher advertising recognition scores. Conversely, low brand prominence in the context of advergames exacerbates consumers’ lack of recognition by reducing the number of brand or advertising related elements available for schematic retrieval and processing. These findings suggest 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.

Nathaniel J. Evans  Bartosz Wojdynski  Michael Harman 

Related Research


The Covert Advertising Recognition and Effects (CARE) model: Processes of persuasion in native advertising and other masked formats

Abstract: Covert advertisements, or those that utilize the guise and delivery mechanisms of familiar non-advertising formats, differ from other more direct forms of advertising in several ways that are important for understanding users’ psychological responses. Research across various covert advertising formats including various forms of sponsored editorial content, other native advertising formats, and product placement […]

Nathaniel J. EvansBartosz Wojdynski
read more
Who paid for what? The role of visual attention to content and disclosures in Facebook political advertising

Abstract: The present study sought to define and test the effects of “mistargeting” – that is, the phenomenon in which consumers are delivered online behavioral advertising (OBA) that has served them an irrelevant ad based on misinterpreted characteristics. Results of a 2 (ad mechanism disclosure: present/absent) x 2 (targeted ad accuracy: high/low) between-subjects experiment (N […]

Matthew BinfordBartosz WojdynskiShuoya Sun
read more