Title

Don’t Shut Us Down! Audience Responses to Disabling Comments in Online Content

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Journalism

Minor

Television Production

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Ismail Karabas

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

This paper explores the interactions between brand familiarity, third-party endorsements, and consumers ability to engage in reciprocal communication across two distinct online contexts. Online marketing — especially that which is conducted via social media — has generated immense interest in recent years, with 86% of business-to-consumer marketers deploying content in this way (“100 digital,” 2019). Brands of varying familiarity to consumers are a part of this cultural shift, and some are even sponsoring third-party “influencers” to help disseminate their messages (Geyser 2022). When deploying said messages online, brands typically have the choice to allow disallow consumers to respond and react by posting comments (Lee 2004; Graf et al 2017). While previous research has explored brand familiarity, sponsorships, and commenting to exhaustive length, we intend to determine the effect of brand familiarity on messages distributed by a third-party endorser when comments are enabled or disabled. We expect that viewers will find sponsored content by known brands with comments enabled less manipulative and therefore possess higher purchase intentions, whereas they may find sponsored content by unknown brands with comments disabled much more manipulative and therefore possess even lower purchases intentions. We expect a neutral effect from unsponsored content. We ran two studies toward this end. Practical implications are explored.

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Don’t Shut Us Down! Audience Responses to Disabling Comments in Online Content

This paper explores the interactions between brand familiarity, third-party endorsements, and consumers ability to engage in reciprocal communication across two distinct online contexts. Online marketing — especially that which is conducted via social media — has generated immense interest in recent years, with 86% of business-to-consumer marketers deploying content in this way (“100 digital,” 2019). Brands of varying familiarity to consumers are a part of this cultural shift, and some are even sponsoring third-party “influencers” to help disseminate their messages (Geyser 2022). When deploying said messages online, brands typically have the choice to allow disallow consumers to respond and react by posting comments (Lee 2004; Graf et al 2017). While previous research has explored brand familiarity, sponsorships, and commenting to exhaustive length, we intend to determine the effect of brand familiarity on messages distributed by a third-party endorser when comments are enabled or disabled. We expect that viewers will find sponsored content by known brands with comments enabled less manipulative and therefore possess higher purchase intentions, whereas they may find sponsored content by unknown brands with comments disabled much more manipulative and therefore possess even lower purchases intentions. We expect a neutral effect from unsponsored content. We ran two studies toward this end. Practical implications are explored.