Jonathan K Noel, Thomas F Babor, James J. Grady; Department of Community Medicine and Health Care, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, 263 Farmington Ave., MC 6325, Farmington, CT 06030, USA

Alcohol and Alcoholism, 2018; link



The current study was conducted to investigate how changes in the content of a social media ad, user engagement values associated with the ad and user-generated comments (UGCs) associated with the ad can influence the appeal (i.e. source appeal, informational appeal and emotional appeal) of a social media ad.

Short summary

Facebook beer ads that violated the guidelines of a relevant marketing code were rated as more emotionally appealing compared to Facebook beer ads that did not violated the guidelines. Increased emotional appeal in beer advertising increases the probability that the ad will be remembered and influence future drinking occasions.


A 2 (ad regulatory compliance: compliant vs. non-compliant) × 2 (user engagement: low vs. high) × 2 (UGC congruence: pro- vs anti-alcohol) mixed factorial experiment was conducted with 120 young adults, 21–24 years old. Each participant viewed four Facebook beer ads that were previously evaluated for thematic content and regulatory compliance. Participants were randomized to view either high or low user engagement values and either pro- or anti-drinking user-generated comments. After each ad exposure, ad appeal was assessed. Statistical analysis was conducted using hierarchical linear modeling. Models were adjusted for demographics, Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) scores and Facebook involvement.


Source appeal (P = 0.034) and informational appeal (P < 0.001) were significantly higher among ads that were compliant with existing advertising regulations. Emotional appeal was significantly higher among ads that were non-compliant (P = 0.004). The effect of user engagement and UGCs were non-significant (p’s > 0.05). Additionally, AUDIT scores (p’s < 0.01) and Facebook involvement scores (p’s < 0.01) were positively associated with all forms of ad appeal.


The appeal of Facebook beer ads may be primarily determined by ad content. Increased emotional appeal in advertising caused by non-compliant advertising may increase the probability that the ad will be remembered and influence future drinking occasions.

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