Publication Date

Summer 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Evan Palmer; Cary Feria; Christina Tzeng


ad blindness;advertisement blindness;habituation;social media apps


Advertisement blindness (ad blindness) is a general term that refers to people’s tendency to automatically and unconsciously ignore advertisements. The phenomenon was originally identified in banner ads, then later in text and native ads on websites. Today, social media is an effective tool for advertisers, yet research investigating users’ interaction habits with social media ads in mobile applications (apps) is unexplored. This study expands the ad blindness concept to mobile social media apps, examining its presence and whether target position has an influence. Further, it investigates the relationship between social media use and ad blindness. Employing a novel approach, the study uses a dynamic mock news feed to measure ad blindness in social media posts. 65 young adults performed semantic searches within a stream of ad and content posts, with varied target positions on their phones. Target location accuracy was the major dependent variable, and participants had higher accuracy in content posts than in ad posts, providing evidence for ad blindness. Ad avoidance was especially prevalent in the last third of the news feed. We also explored the relationship between ad blindness and social media use, however, there was no significant correlation between the two. Overall, these results revealed the first evidence of ad blindness on social media mobile applications. Also, the findings suggest that ads are more effective at the beginning of the feed, which has real-world applications for parties of interest.

Included in

Psychology Commons