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 has shown that variation consumers’ persuasive responses to such messages is largely driven by whether they recognize that such messages are advertising at all. After reviewing the findings of empirical research into covert advertising effects, we present a model of covert advertising recognition effects (CARE) that outlines potential antecedents and processes underlying the recognition of covert advertising, and maps several pathways to persuasive outcomes that are contingent on advertising recognition and perceptions related to the information in and perceived presentation of the advertisement itself.