Credit: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

In this election year, political advertising on social networking sites such as Facebook is increasingly making use of personalized ads to target specific social media users. The effectiveness of online political microtargeting and the role of "persuasion knowledge" are examined in a new study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

Coauthors of the study Sanne Kruikemeier, Minem Sezgin, and Sophie Boerman, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, found that compared to a regular Facebook post, a political personalized Facebook ad activated a voter's persuasion knowledge, making them less likely to share the information, but only when the person noticed the label identifying the ad as being "sponsored." In the article, "Political Microtargeting: Relationship Between Personalized Advertising on Facebook and Voters' Responses," the authors define persuasion knowledge as an individual's personal beliefs and knowledge about the motives and tactics related to advertising.

"Current elections will now more than ever before be including microtargeting on in their campaign strategies," says Editor-in-Chief Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCB, BCN, Interactive Media Institute, San Diego, California and Virtual Reality Medical Institute, Brussels, Belgium. "Future studies on whether personalizing ads leads to more positive outcomes, such as mobilization of citizens to vote, or to more negative outcomes, such as avoiding political content, will give us even further information on this tactic."

More information: Sanne Kruikemeier et al, Political Microtargeting: Relationship Between Personalized Advertising on Facebook and Voters' Responses, Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking (2016). DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2015.0652

Journal information: Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking