How playable ads influence consumer attitude: exploring the mediation effects of perceived control and freedom threat

Xiaohan Hu, Kevin Wise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The playable ad is a new type of digital advertising that combines interactivity with gamification. Guided by psychological reactance theory, this study aims to explore the psychological processes and effects of playable ads on consumers’ perceived control and product attitudes. Design/methodology/approach: This paper conducted two experiments to examine the relationship between playable ads, perceived control and product attitude. This paper also applied psychological reactance theory and investigated whether perceived control triggered by the interactive features of playable ads influenced psychological reactance toward them. Findings: Findings from two experiments show that playable ads, compared to video ads, increased consumers’ perceived control, which, in turn, led to more positive attitudes toward the advertised products (Studies 1 and 2). This study also supports psychological reactance theory by revealing that increased perceived control diminished perceived freedom threat and subsequently alleviated consumers’ psychological reactance toward advertising messages (Study 2). Originality/value: This study sheds light on the effectiveness of a new type of ad-game integration – playable ads. Different from prior research in gamification of advertising, this paper examined the effectiveness of playable ads in an information processing context in which the ads were not the primary task to focus on. This study also extends psychological reactance theory in the context of interactive marketing by exploring the effect of perceived control afforded by digital message features in mitigating reactance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-315
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Research in Interactive Marketing
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021


  • Advertising
  • Consumer psychology
  • Gamification of advertising
  • Online advertising
  • Perceived control
  • Playable ads
  • Psychological reactance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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