Corporate Eye

Credibility Counts: Making the Most of Website Advertisements

transfer of affectBetween 2000 and 2011, the Internet saw a 525% growth rate, with the amount of Internet users jumped from 3 million to over 2 billion. Needless to say, the Internet is ripe territory for corporate website advertising. But it must be done correctly.

Website advertisements are characterized by a wide spectrum of efficacy. While some advertisements go unnoticed, others can be significant contributors to increases in ROI. What determines the success of a website advertisement?

Credibility is what counts.

The social psychology concept transfer of affect can explain how credibility leads to successful website advertising. Transfer of affect occurs when a person transfers positive emotions connected with one object to another object that is associated with it.

Credible Ads from a Credible Source

When applied to website advertisements, transfer of affect can be expressed in the relationship between a user’s perceived perception of credibility and their response to website advertisements. Research shows that users who believe a corporation and its website to be credible are more likely to believe that that website advertisement is credible as well. Thus, credibility transfers from corporation or corporate website to website advertisement.

Credibility affects the following:

  • User interpretation the advertisement – A high level of credibility leads to a positive interpretation of the advertisement. Low credibility can lead to derogation of the website and the corporation.
  • User attitude towards the advertisement – When the user senses credibility, they will view the advertisement as legitimate, as opposed to a mere annoyance.

Establishing Credibility

Credibility is a function of expertise & trustworthiness. An image of expertise and trustworthiness can take any corporation a long way. When a user senses these attributes, it affects their attitude towards the brand and their product purchase intentions.

  •  To establish expertise  – Provide valid, relevant, and accurate information on your website.  Be sure to eliminate any jargon  and tailor the content of your website to your target audience.
  •  To establish trustworthiness – Be sure to present your image in a way that erases any doubts in the consumer’s mind. They want to believe that your corporation has no motive for manipulation or deception.

How to maximize your website advertisements

If you are a corporation looking to increase credibility, then it is wise to place your advertisements on credible websites owned by credible organizations. Users tend to find URL domain types such as .edu, .gov, .org. and .com as highly credible.

If you are a well-established corporation, then your focus does not necessarily need to be on establishing credibility. Instead it should be on maintaining and improving your credibility. This can be done through focusing on the relevance, validity, and accuracy of your advertisements since these are powerful ways to build corporate images of expertise.

A closing note: Those corporations that host advertisements on their website should be sure each advertisement they host is relevant to their topic, as well as accurate and valid. Because, remember, the transfer of affect can go both ways; a poorly designed advertisement can cast a shadow on event the most credible websites.


For information on Transfer of Affect  (Krosnick, Jussim, & Lynn, 1992)

For information on credibility and website advertisements (Choi & Rifon, 2002)