Reports show that 6.77m people published blogs on blogging websites and more than 12m people write blogs using their social network. However, few studies have explored consumer attitudes toward bloggers and their advertising. Therefore, an effort to discover how paid blog advertisements influence consumer attitudes toward bloggers and the products they advertise will help marketers gain an understanding of how to use bloggers as paid sponsors to influence consumer purchase intent. Using online survey approach, a study recruited participants (n=210) through an online survey platform (MTurk). The results indicated that the similarity between the consumer and the ad creator is an important psychological reason why consumers are more likely to perceive advertisements as more authentic, more affective, less deceptive and more credible, and they are thus more likely to trust the blogger. On the other hand, the importance of ad attribute (authenticity) does not significantly influence consumers’ intention to purchase products advertised by a blogger. As consumers are becoming more skeptical of advertisements, blogs need to be entertaining and a pleasure to view. Not only does the content need to be interesting, the design, flow and clarity of the blogs must also be considered important factors. In addition, advertising needs to be believable, credible and honest. In the online world, trust and credibility are still paramount in attracting consumers’ engagement; hence, promoting companies’ products and services through blogs can be an effective strategy to lower consumer skepticism barriers. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
Participants answered questions about their attitudes toward bloggers and their advertising when purchasing products in an online retail environment. Furthermore, participants also answered questions about their perceived trust in the bloggers themselves as well as the authenticity and credibility of the brand-related communication received from bloggers. Moreover, they reported on their attitudes toward how deceptive they considered bloggers and their advertising to be. Finally, participants reported how paid blog advertisements influence their purchase intent.
Similarity toward the ad creator is an important psychological reason behind consumers’ attitude toward blogs. Consumers who follow a blog often have the same interests and are thus more likely to support bloggers. This idea can be used as a segmentation strategy to reach particular consumers. Consumers who perceive similarity with the ad creator are more likely to recognize the ads as more authentic, affective, credible and trustworthy as well as less deceptive, regarding the blogger. Blogs need to be entertaining and a pleasure to view. Not only does the content need to be interesting but the design, flow and clarity of the blog are also important factors. Blog advertising needs to be believable, credible and honest. In the online world, trust and credibility are still paramount in attracting consumers’ engagement with the website, bloggers or social media.
Trust in the blogger did not influence consumers’ purchase intent; however, it did influence their attitude toward how similar they are with the blogger. In an online shopping environment, the human touch and personal contact between consumers and retailers has been lost. Consumers often leave the online transaction due to a lack of trust. Therefore, bloggers can be replacements for the missing “salesperson” in online interactions. Companies can use bloggers as the mediating person to reach their intended audiences, bridging the gap between the company and consumers.||