Native advertising risks producing a negative response from consumers if it is too reminiscent of familiar online editorial formats, according to a study in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

Yoori Hwang (Myongji University) and Se-Hoon Jeong (Korea University) discussed this subject in a paper entitled, Consumers’ response to format in native advertising vs. editorial: The interaction between format similarity and format novelty.

And their analysis “showed that format similarity induced greater perception of deceptiveness, and format novelty induced lower advertising recognition, lower perceived irritation, and greater click intention.

“The effect of format similarity on greater deceptiveness perception suggests that the manipulativeness feature of format similarity can have negative effects.”

Drilling down further, the academics revealed that while native ads that were similar to familiar editorial formats yielded an unfavourable reaction, that result did not occur if the ad and editorial content both had unfamiliar designs.

“This could be because format novelty induces cognitive overload, which in turn reduces advertisement recognition or critical processing of advertising,” the study suggested.

“Because greater cognitive resources are allocated to the processing of editorial content presented with a novel format, a lesser amount of cognitive resources would be available to process critically the advertisement.”

A total of 311 adults from South Korea participated in the study. These respondents were drawn from a 25- to 43-year-old age range, and the panel was evenly split between male and female consumers.

These consumers were presented with ads for a fictional mouthwash brand. And the ads either had a high level of similarity to the surrounding online editorial content, or greater “novelty” that helped set this information apart.

Based on the findings, the authors suggested that “format similarity may not always induce positive responses, and thus native advertising might not be always more effective than non-native advertising”.

The subsequent recommendation for marketers: “Native advertising thus should be planned and executed carefully in order to avoid irritating consumers.”

And the analysis offered guidance for media owners, too: “[Given] the positive effects of format novelty, publishers can attract more attention to their editorial content as well as native advertising by updating its format regularly.”

Sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by WARC staff