This research explored the underlying mechanisms of soft-text native advertising’s effectiveness, as well as the impact of engagement metrics of social media advertising. An online experiment among Chinese consumers was conducted. The results showed that compared to hard-sell social media advertising, soft-text native advertising is more effective in inducing favorable attitudes toward ads and products as well as greater purchase intentions. This is achieved through inducing higher perceived entertainment, flow experience, ad value and lower perceived irritation. In addition, social media engagement metrics can significantly affect consumers’ purchase intentions through influencing perceived ad entertainment. The findings contributed to the native advertising literature and provided practical implications to advertising practitioners.
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