Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communications Media

First Advisor

Mary Beth Leidman

Second Advisor

Mark J. Piwinsky

Third Advisor

Michele Papakie


The genre of native advertising is growing exponentially, and marketers predict over half of all online ads will soon be a form of this sponsored content. The growth on mobile platforms is even greater, yet there is trepidation among regulators and consumer groups concerning the transparency of native ads and their continual evolution. The addition of the use of artificial intelligence to specifically match native content to editorial is increasingly problematic. On social media platforms, influencers market to the public through their postings and in YouTube videos. This research attempted to understand if consumers recognize these ads and to gain insight into their perceptions of these ads through the examination of native ads in online news media and the popular social media platform Instagram. This research was conducted through an online experiment that queried participants’ perceptions and recognition of native advertising. This study found that the marketing of Instagram micro-influencers was better received by the study participants than major influencers. Additionally, the halo effect was only activated by the masthead of a prestigious online legacy media entity to sway participants’ perceptions of the quality of the content they read.