The advertising industry has recently witnessed proliferation in native ads, which are inserted into a web stream (e.g., a list of news articles or social media posts) and look like the surrounding nonsponsored contents. This study is among the first to examine native ads and unveil how their effectiveness changes across serial positions by analyzing a large-scale data set with 120 ads. For each ad, the authors use separate “natural experiment” studies to compare the ad’s performance as its serial position varies. Subsequently, they conduct a meta-analysis to generalize the results across all studies. The results reveal vastly asymmetric effects of native ad serial position on publishers’ metrics (click-based) versus advertisers’ metrics (conversion-based). As serial position lowers (i.e., from rank 1 to a lower rank), there are only modest changes in publishers’ metrics, but drastic reductions in advertisers’. This pattern is unique to native ads and has not been indicated by prior research on ad serial position. Moreover, the authors show the moderating effects of audience gender and age. The findings provide new and timely implications for researchers and marketers.
- Contingency effects
- Native advertising
- Serial position
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Business and International Management