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Ad or editorial? Native advertising and shifting political attitudes

McKinnon, Meredith Melton

This study seeks to evaluate whether a causal relationship exists between native advertising and voter’s attitudes towards political candidates. Native ads are often paid for by a third-party source, and they are tactically designed to blend in with editorial content to grab viewer attention. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does require native ads to have sponsorship disclosure; however, discloser is not always clear or effective. This may lead many viewers to believe information is unbiased, as well as, share it with fellow followers via online platforms. Since 2008, political elites have utilized native ads as a way to boost campaigns (e.g., President Obama placed native ads on Buzzfeed and in video games). Additionally, the strategic framing of ads can influence political communication, public opinion, political preferences, and content analysis (Chong & Druckman, 2007). Therefore, our study incorporated a gain versus loss framing into the stimuli. The study also implemented a quasi-experimental design and sent out surveys via Qualtrics. After receiving 492 total responses, the data was analyzed via STATA statistical software. Overall, we find that both gain-loss framing and native ads can have significant influence on voter attitudes.