Are sponsored links effective? Investigating the impact of trust in search engine advertising

Yan Lu, Michael Chau, Patrick Y.K. Chau

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


As information on the Internet grows exponentially, online users primarily rely on search engines (SEs) to locate e-commerce sites for online shopping. To generate revenue while providing free service to users, SE companies offer sponsored link (SL) placements to e-commerce sites that want to appear in the first SE results page. However, the lack of users' trust in SE advertising indicates that SEs should utilize strategies to project trustworthiness on this mechanism. Despite these insights, the role of users' trust in the operation of SE advertising is still an unexplored territory. To address this issue, a theoretical model was synthesized from the social psychology literature, the marketing literature, and the trust literature to investigate the factors that may pose impacts on the effectiveness of SE advertising by influencing users' perception of both cognitive and emotional trust. A laboratory experiment was conducted. The findings document the importance of incorporating emotional components of trust in the study of online communication by showing that emotional dimension of trust is different from and complementary to cognitive trust in facilitating online communication. The findings also provide valuable implications for practitioners to design and provide more effective SLs that can benefit all parties involved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12
JournalACM Transactions on Management Information Systems
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive trust
  • Emotional trust
  • Online advertising effectiveness
  • Trust in online advertising

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • General Computer Science


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