Sponsorship disclosure in television programmes – such as displaying the words ‘this programme contains product placement’ – is by no means always effective. But if it is noticed by viewers, the side effects include both increased brand recall and a less favourable brand attitude. This is one of the conclusions drawn by communication scientist Sophie Boerman in her doctoral research into the effects of sponsorship disclosure. Boerman will receive her doctorate from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) on Thursday, 24 April.
Boerman researched the way that viewers respond to sponsored television programmes and the brands embedded into them. Sponsored television content is the deliberate integration of brands or products in editorial content, in exchange for payment from the sponsor. It ranges from brand placement (where a brand or product is placed in the programme) to brand integration (where a brand plays an important role in the storyline and programme production). Television broadcasters are required under European law to make viewers aware of the presence of sponsored content in programmes. However, the effectiveness of that sponsorship disclosure has barely been researched.
It appears that viewers are often unaware of sponsorship disclosure, even though its effectiveness depends on this. Using eye tracking, Boerman has also shown that disclosure consisting of text and a logo draws the most attention, and that paying attention to the disclosure then leads to viewers paying attention to and recognising the sponsored content.
Boerman shows that sponsorship disclosure can enable television viewers to better recognise advertising in television programmes, and be more critical of that advertising. On the one hand the disclosure acts as a prime for the brand, so that viewers devote more visual attention to the brand and remember it better. On the other hand, the disclosure also generates resistance among viewers. If viewers are aware of the sponsorship disclosure and recognise the advertising in a programme, they see the sponsored content as being more biased and less reliable, and they view the sponsored content with greater suspicion. This then leads to less favourable attitudes toward the brand, and that mitigates the persuasive effect of the sponsored content.
S. C. Boerman, “This Program Contains Product Placement.” Effects of Sponsorship Disclosure on Television Viewers’ Responses. Supervisor: Prof. P. C. Neijens. Co-supervisor: Dr E. A. van Reijmersdal.
The graduation ceremony will take place on Thursday, 24 April at 14:00. Location: Agnietenkapel, Oudezijds Voorburgwal 231, Amsterdam.