Sponsored content as a two-edged sword: determinants of its credibility and trustability
This thesis aims to examine the perceived credibility and trust assessments of sponsored content regarding the image of a sponsored brand. This examination consists of two-legged studies. By using a between-subjects experiment design, the first study compared the perceived credibility and trust assessments of an editorial content and a sponsored content. The findings show that Turkish participants find sponsored content as credible and trustable as editorial content. The second study explored perceived credibility and trust assessments of two sponsored contents, one belonging to a global technology brand and the other sponsored by a local telecommunications brand which recently experienced a reputation crisis. It also investigated image assessments of these brands. The results revealed that there is no difference between two brands in terms of perceived credibility assessments of their sponsored contents. The images of both brands are positively correlated with the perceived credibility of their sponsored contents. The impact of experiencing a reputation crisis only becomes evident when rating the image of the local brand in question. Those who had information about the reputation crisis rate the image of local brand lower compared to the ones who did not have information about the reputation crisis. However, there is no difference between the images of two brands, and people tend to trust more the sponsored content of the local brand. Additionally, both studies briefly examined the ability of noticing sponsored content and the results displayed that majority of participants are able to notice what they read is a sponsored content.