Online Advertising



Audience Factors

Routes of Communication

Viral Marketing


































Communicator Effects in Online Advertising

Effectiveness of an online advertisement is a result of the efforts of a communicator.  A communicator can considered as the one who is sending the message, and in many cases the communicator would be a company who is trying to advertise a product.  The two main elements that influence online advertisements involving a communicator would be their perceived credibility and trustworthiness.  Studies show that as a person uses the internet for increasing amounts of information, they become savvier about which sources to believe and which to disregard (Johnson & Kaye, 2002).  The importance of a communicator to seem credible and trustworthy when advertising online has increased over time. 

When discussing the issue of persuasion and how a message should be communicated for the most effectiveness, the topic of credibility is always studied.  The dictionary definition of credible would be, “worthy of belief or confidence; trustworthy” (“Credible,” 2009).  There are five components of persuasive communication; the one primarily dealing with online advertising would be the component of the source which is comprised of three elements, one of which is credibility (Pornpitakpan, 2004).  Pornpitakpan published an article that compiles five decades of findings on source credibility and their effects on persuasion.  In this article, it states that a highly credible source is more persuasive toward an individual and is evaluated more favorable than a low-credibility source (Pornpitakpan, 2004).  Findings suggest that trustworthiness of a source affects persuasion, thus, when the source seems concerned about the welfare of the audience, persuasion increases.  And regarding corporate credibility, which is what really matters when discussing online advertising, studies show that corporate credibility is essential to how a consumer reacts to an ad and their feelings of a brand (Pornpitakpan, 2004)


Communicator credibility in advertising can be defined as one’s beliefs about the integrity, truthfulness, and honesty, of an advertisement (Hyeonjin, Reid, & King, 2007).   Interestingly enough, studies have found different conclusions regarding time periods of when internet credibility was higher than others.  One study found that credibility has been increasing since 1996.  In 1996, 13% of participants thought online newspapers were moderately to very credible, but by 2000, that percentage had risen to 40% (Johnson & Kaye, 2002).  Contrary to that information, others have found that the credibility of online information has declined since the mid-1980s, since they felt that that products were not advertised accurately (Greer, 2003).  Researchers Johnson and Kaye found that reliance influences credibility.  An example of this would be that web reliance negatively predicts credibility of online newspapers, meaning the more one uses the internet, the less credible they find online newspapers (Johnson & Kaye, 2002).  The study also found that convenience had a major influence of the credibility of online sources.  The article states, “As Web users become increasingly savvy in discovering where to find credible information, convenience is bound to become a more important reason why individuals go to the Internet in the first place for information(Johnson & Kaye, 2002, p. 635)

A major issue with communicator credibility is that most of the information found on the internet does not go through the rigorous process of editing and factual verification as a traditional source would (Johnson & Kaye, 2002).  In many cases, disclosure of commercial interests online is almost impossible to find, and the communicators remain unidentified (Greer, 2003).  However, a study also found that online news sites are considered as more credible than their traditional counterparts.  54% of respondents of those polled in 2000 gave higher believability ratings than the 40% which rated the CNN news television station higher (Greer, 2003).  Although, many viewers find ways of determining how credible an online advertisement truly is.  Overall, a credible endorser is very valuable to an advertisement.  Credible advertising sources can influence opinions, attitudes, and even behavior.  Greer claims, “High corporate credibility and the trustworthiness of a company also positively affect consumer attitudes toward advertisements” (Greer, 2003).


Many researchers believe that trust is an element of credibility; however, trust is essential to how an advertisement is perceived to the extent that it can be discussed on its own.  In an article on communicators, George claims that trust is so important that it has become the holy grail of communication (George, 2009).  Research claims that 55% of internet users claim that they pay more attention to advertisements on internet sites they can trust (Vagg, 2009).  For an online advertisement to be effective, consumers need to think the communicator is trustworthy.  In an article by Taylor, he claims that trust is the most important element when determining whether or not a consumer accepts a digital advertisement (Taylor, 2009).  Results from a study by Hyeojin found that internet advertising is the least-trusted route of advertising and that generalized trust in advertisements and internet credibility were predictors of trust in online advertising (Hyeonjin et. al, 2007).  Therefore, it is essential for communicators to be perceived as trustworthy for an online advertisement to be effective.