Advertising in social media: what do we know? What do we need to know more about?

What does the article examine?
The article presents a thematically grouped overview of social media advertising related research from 2006 to 2014.

Which concepts are discussed in the article?
The article reviews research published between 2006 and 2014 in terms of the methodology, the theoretical underpinnings as well as the main outcomes – ordered by areas of research each article looked at (e.g. attitude towards advertising, consumer generated advertising etc) amongst others.

Where is the data from and what methodology is being used?
The article relies on the “literature synthesis method”. Thus it codes all the articles for areas such as research topics, theoretical frameworks, method, sample, measured constructs, analysis and results. This then allows the authors to group together thematically similar publications (e.g. all publications based on a particular theoretical framework or examining a particular construct etc).

What are the main outcomes?
The author identifies 7 major themes in social media research:

  • Attitudes of social media users towards advertising on social media sites
  • Brand Pages and who is using them
  • Targeting – and overall dissatisfaction with the relevance of targeted adverts
  • UGC in advertising, specifically the effects of users commenting on adverts
  • eWOM, or most specifically sharing of adverts
  • Consumer Generated Adverts on sites such as YouTube and their effect on the brand
  • Effects of social media advertising in general

The author also identifies the main theoretical frameworks currently being used: In particular, several social identity and social influence theories as major theories, with other advertising theories such as Elaboration Likelihood Model or the Theory of Planned Behaviour being less frequently used.

Social identity and influence theories are main theories underpinning social media advertising research Click To Tweet
What are the implications and why should you read it?
The author not only provides an easy to read summary of the current research in the areas above, but also elaborates on potential future research directions. He names several of them, amongst them unintended consequences and negative consequences of social media (especially in the case of children/young adults), targeting and how this can be improved, links between social media and traditional advertising etc.

Looking for an easy to read, practical summary of #socialmedia advertising research? Here it is! Click To Tweet

Overall it is an easy to read article, which summarises the field of social media research up until 2014. Of course, more has been written since then, but several areas the author suggests for future research have yet to be researched – and the article provides a good foundation for future research projects.

Full reference: Knoll, J. (2016). Advertising in social media: A review of empirical evidence. International Journal of Advertising, 35(2), 266–300.

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