Yann Verhellen, Nathalie Dens, Nathalie Dens
Despite the vast growth of web 2.0., academic research has not kept pace with the development of advertising techniques for user-generated content. The present study is, to the best of our knowledge, the first to investigate the effects of brand placement techniques in user-generated content. Using a 2x2 full-factorial between-subjects design with self-produced videos posted on a major social media platform (YouTube), we investigate the effects of prominence (how conspicuously the brand is used or mentioned), celebrity endorser expertise (celebrity expert versus amateur) and their interaction on brand recognition and purchase intention of brands that appear in the video. While the prominence of one brand was manipulated, we also tested the effects on both the manipulated brand and the other brands that subtly appeared in the video. We further study the moderating role of video liking on these relationships using associative network theory and the Persuasion Knowledge Model. The results indicate a strong positive effect of brand placement prominence on brand recognition of both the manipulated brand and a subtly placed complementary brand (a brand that is explicitly used together with the manipulated brand). A prominent endorsement by a celebrity expert enhances the purchase intention of the focal brand compared to a subtle endorsement. This effect is stronger for viewers who strongly liked the video than for viewers who liked the video less. Although our study is limited to only one platform and content type, our results are of importance to practitioners who are interested in integrating their brands in online content. The study aims to advance both the theoretical and practical knowledge of brand placement effects by studying the effects of different placement characteristics and brands in a user-generated content setting.