Avoidance of Advertising in Social Networking Sites: The Teenage Perspective

Louise Kelly, Gayle Kerr and Judy Drennan

Increasing clutter and media fragmentation now expose consumers to thousands of commercial messages every day (Gritten 2007). These messages arrive not only from traditional media, such as television and newspaper, but through guerrilla media campaigns, subviral marketing online, brand installation, and consumer-generated media such as blogs, podcasts, and online social networking sites (Gritten 2007; Schultz 2006a). As a consequence, consumers have increasingly become the editors of information, empowered by technology to avoid both content and advertising messages that do not interest them (Gritten 2007).

Although avoidance of advertising is a well-researched topic, it has only recently been studied in the online environment (Cho and Cheon 2004; Grant 2005) and never specifically in online social networking sites. Thus, our purpose is to explore teenagers' attitudes toward advertising in the online social networking environment, whether avoidance tactics are employed, and which tactics are used. This effort is significant because little is known about how advertising, designed as a mass media tool, might reinvent itself in the personal spaces of teenagers. The reaction of teenagers to both the medium and the message is worthy of exploration, owing to their early adopter attitude and behavior (Tufte 2003). For example, in Australia, 70% of girls and 50% of boys, aged 14 to 17 years, have a MySpace site (Australian Communications and Media Authority 2007). Furthermore, an examination of teenagers' usage of such sites and advertising avoidance may provide guidelines for the transformation of advertising in social media.


Attitude Toward Advertising and Advertising Avoidance