How Does Personification Impact Ad Performance and Empathy? An Experiment with Online Advertising

Joni Salminen, Ilkka Kaate, Ahmed Mohamed Sayed Kamel, Soon Gyo Jung, Bernard J. Jansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


This research explores the value of personas for supporting professional advertisers to design adverts for social media. We test if a personified user group (PUG), when provided to online ad designers, results in better ad performance than when using a non-personified user group (NUG) that had no face picture or name. Our experiment has 30 participants that created Facebook ads using both PUG and NUG. We found that using PUG did increase advertising click performance of ads created by people who are more experienced with ads and personas. Moreover, an analysis of the ad texts showed that the use of PUG increased the empathy of the created ads, supporting the foundational empathy benefit cited in HCI literature. However, the use of PUG did not significantly increase purchase intent. The results imply that using PUG for online ad design evokes more empathy and improves click-through performance. More empathetic ads can have a positive impact on social media users, given that they appear to increase relevance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-155
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Interaction
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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