Guilt by association: How chumbox advertising affects news readers’ perceptions

Abstract: As content referral widgets and other forms of native advertising continue to be lucrative means of subsidizing journalism, critics and industry observers have derided these “chumboxes” as damaging to the user experience and the journalism they’re adjacent to. This study theorizes mechanisms behind this proposition and tests it in two controlled experiments. Results suggest that effects of chumbox ads on perceptions of message and source credibility depend on article context, such that the presence of chumboxes damages message and source credibility in circumstances where readers are more motivated to read the article.