The aim of this master’s thesis project is to explore young adolescents’ advertising literacy in relation to native advertising on social media, as there is a current gap in the existing literature on children as online consumers and their understanding of emerging advertising formats, specifically native advertising. Native advertising is a format that is seamlessly integrated into the platforms to a point of which the difference between organic and paid content is indistinguishable. Children and adolescents are increasingly becoming online consumers, given their growing purchasing power and media consumption. Studies show than children and adolescents are spending numerous hours a day online, making them an attractive target group for companies and advertisers.
This study is based partially on qualitative in-depth interviews with Danish adolescents to provide insights in their abilities in distinguishing and understanding native advertising in context with social media. The study also includes a nethnographic study that was conducted to explore the exposure of native advertising on three popular social media platforms: Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. The thesis has an interdisciplinary approach, which means that the primary data is supported by an extensive theoretical foundation on children’s media and consumer culture as well as their advertising literacy. The results of the study suggest that young adolescents aged 12 to 15 have a broad understanding of advertisers’ selling intent on social media. The participants were able to identify many types of native advertising based on multiple variables including brand knowledge. However, the study showed a significant blind spot for the cursors that mark the advertising intent. The participants had inconsistent literacies related to the markings of the advertisements, e.g. “partnership” and “sponsored”, whereas cursors with more colloquial language improved the overall advertising literacy, suggesting a significant misunderstanding of the concepts used online. As expected, the advertisements’ persuasive intents were not comprehended by the participants, as they lack understanding of the brands’ wish to create long-lasting brand relations with strategically chosen targets. Other findings show a correlation between adolescents and influencer marketing that notably decreases their ability to critically assess commercial messages. The participants that had existing virtual relationships with the influencers included in the study had little to no understanding of the advertisements, due to the interpersonal peripheral friendships. Compared to existing literature, this study does not find any correlation between the child’s age and its level of advertising literacy. Rather the advertising literacy is seemingly based on other factors such as media experience and brand knowledge. This study provides valuable insights for both marketers, parents, teachers, ombudsman et cetera. Further, the study can be useful for scholars to further research children’s advertising literacy in relation to online advertising formats.
|Educations||MSc in Business Administration and Organizational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis|
|Number of pages||89|