Insights in adolescents’ advertising literacy, perceptions and responses regarding sponsored influencer videos and disclosures

Special Issue: Digital Advertising and Consumer Empowerment


Increasingly, online video creators are promoting brands to their network of adolescent followers, a phenomenon known as video influencer marketing. Both the vulnerability of adolescents and the lack of sponsorship disclosures raise concerns about the ethics of influencer marketing. Through focus groups (20 participants, aged 12 to 16), we investigated adolescents’ awareness and understanding of the presence of persuasive content in influencer videos (i.e. conceptual advertising literacy), their moral and evaluative perceptions of this content (i.e. attitudinal and moral advertising literacy), their perceptions of disclosures, and the role of disclosures in their evaluations of the sponsoring brand and the influencer. Results show that adolescents are accepting of sponsorships and show compassion toward the influencers instead of having a critical perspective. Moreover, disclosures are appreciated as long as they do not disturb the editorial–commercial balance of the sponsored video. However, when a disclosure does disturb this balance, adolescents report reactance and negative brand evaluations. The results contribute to the theoretical understanding of adolescents’ advertising literacy of video influencer marketing and provide practical guidelines for establishing disclosure policies.

Adolescents; influencer marketing; disclosures; sponsored content; persuasion knowledge; advertising literacy

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