Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to focus on college students, users of online social networks, as main sources of information that helps advertisers understand the ways in which advertisements are perceived online. Design/methodology/approach Results were reached through qualitative research. Personal in-depth interviews, utilizing Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET), were conducted among 20 college students. Interviews consisted of using screenshots of advertisements in online social networks to uncover respondents' reactions. Findings - It was generally concluded that the users of online social networks do not dislike Advertisements, but they simply do not notice them. Other content found in online social networks mitigates the attractiveness of the advertisements. Hence, the respondents reported that the brand recognition in online social networks was found to be much lower than the one created through other media channels. Practical implications Advertising in online social networks is a major unexplored advertising area. Interactivity on the internet shifts the ways in which users perceive advertising, and whether they perceive it at all. The paper discusses content that catches users' attention and its relation to advertisements. Originality/value Through literature review it has been revealed that no similar research exists. The findings of this research will aid advertisers in recognizing the possibility of advertising to the online social networks' population, taking into consideration different needs, and preferences of such users.

Publication Date



Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Accounting (SCB)


RIT – Main Campus