By: Emily Wood
Social media users are constantly flooded with advertisements during their daily scrolls through their timelines, whether it be a sponsored post from an influencer or a post from a company promoting their products or brand. These advertisements often correlate with consumers’ activity on other websites, including brands they have recently visited, products they have viewed, and suggested brands. Users have also noticed that sometimes these sites even pick up information about items or companies you talk about and promote them to you on social media.
Most people have a negative association with these advertisements, and as a result, they are often avoided by consumers. A recent study found that “62% of Americans ignore SMA, and 73% ignore online banner advertising” (Niu et al., 2021). People find social media as a place to interact with individuals, not a place to interact with advertisements, especially those with whom they have no relationship or brand loyalty to. In other words, users feel as though their social media is their territory, and when social media advertising comes into play, lines are crossed, and the effects of social influence are weakened (Niu et al., 2021). Without this influence, communication from brands through their advertising will not be effective.
A convenience survey in a 2021 study found the following hypotheses to be true:
“H1: Advertising irritation is positively related to advertising avoidance. Yes
H2a: Attention invasiveness is positively related to advertising irritation. Yes
H2b: Space invasiveness is positively related to advertising irritation. Yes
H3a: Social influence is negatively related to attention invasiveness. Yes
H3b: Social influence is negatively related to space invasiveness. Yes
H4a: Psychological ownership moderates the relationship between social influence and attention invasiveness, such that the effect of social influence is lower when psychological ownership is higher. No
H4b: Psychological ownership moderates the relationship between social influence and space invasiveness, such that the effect of social influence is lower when psychological ownership is higher. Yes” (Niu et al., 2021).
It can be convenient to have these advertisements that are personalized to individual consumers for both the company and the buyer; however, social media users tend to view their pages as a private place. As a result, users feel as though these companies are invading this personal space by having their information tracked and used as a way to be targeted by brands. They also feel these posts distract them from their daily scrolls on these sites. This invasion of personal space is known as “space invasiveness” and the interruption of the user’s attention is referred to as “attention invasiveness” (Niu et al., 2021). These types of posts from companies are very easy for users to spot since the formatting is different from what a regular user would post; therefore, these posts are also easy for users to quickly scroll past and ignore.
However, it only takes one person to change how an advertisement is perceived. For example, if a user’s friend shares a social media advertisement with another, that person is most likely going to have a different perception of the communication. The user will feel their personal space is not being invaded when the advertisement comes from someone they trust while coming from a brand itself in a promoted post feels much more invasive which makes users more irritated by these advertisements and therefore, users tend to avoid the brand messaging.
So, what does this mean for advertisers and integrated marketing communication practitioners since posting this type of content is not effective and somewhat counterintuitive? “Companies need to collaborate with social media providers to reduce the space invasiveness from SMA. For example, to reduce space invasiveness, SMA can add social information (e.g., how many friends view and like certain SMA). Companies can also create enterprise accounts, so that when consumers add those enterprise accounts into their “contacts,” the companies can post their SMA in the same format as posts from other consumers, thereby reducing the perception of space invasiveness” (Niu et al., 2021). Even by finding an influencer that a lot of users trust feels less invasive to consumers than promotional content from companies. By reducing the volume of these types of advertisements or presenting them in a or format similar to a post of a regular user, brands are more likely to reach consumers.
Niu, X., Wang, X., & Liu, Z. (Jan. 2021). When i feel invaded, i will avoid it: The effect of advertising invasiveness on consumers’ avoidance of social media advertising. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 58, 102320. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jretconser.2020.102320