The Effect of Popularity Cues and Peer Endorsements on Assertive Social Media Ads

Information Systems Research (forthcoming)

58 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2017 Last revised: 22 Apr 2024

See all articles by Ashish Agarwal

Ashish Agarwal

University of Texas at Austin - Red McCombs School of Business

Shun-Yang Lee

Northeastern University - Marketing Area

Andrew B. Whinston

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Information, Risk and Operations Management

Date Written: February 28, 2024

Abstract

Social media platforms such as Facebook often display assertive call-to-action ads that encourage direct conversion actions, such as purchasing a product or installing an app. Additionally, these ads can display popularity cues (i.e., “likes”) and peer endorsements (i.e., friends’ “likes”). We examine the effectiveness of displaying these different signals on such ads in generating clicks through field tests conducted on Facebook. We collaborated with a mobile app company and conducted a call-to-action ad campaign on Facebook, targeting unique user groups with this type of ads for downloading a mobile app. Our findings reveal that the overall number of popularity cues associated with the ad does not impact the user’s decision to click the ad. Additionally, ads endorsed by friends have a lower clicking performance compared to those without such peer endorsement. Further analyses, based on randomized lab studies and additional field tests using different products and apps, confirm these results and demonstrate that the presence of these signals activates users’ persuasion knowledge of assertive call-to-action ads, resulting in a lower click performance. Furthermore, the negative impact of peer endorsements is particularly pronounced when there is low similarity between users and their friends. These results hold significant implications for the design of assertive call-to-action ads on social media platforms.

Keywords: Social Media Advertising, Reactance, Call-to-Action Ads, Likes, Peer Endorsement

Suggested Citation

Agarwal, Ashish and Lee, Shun-Yang and Whinston, Andrew B., The Effect of Popularity Cues and Peer Endorsements on Assertive Social Media Ads (February 28, 2024). Information Systems Research (forthcoming), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3065564 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3065564

Ashish Agarwal

University of Texas at Austin - Red McCombs School of Business ( email )

Austin, TX 78712
United States

Shun-Yang Lee (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - Marketing Area ( email )

Boston, MA 02115
United States

Andrew B. Whinston

University of Texas at Austin - Department of Information, Risk and Operations Management ( email )

CBA 5.202
Austin, TX 78712
United States
512-471-8879 (Phone)

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