The effects of trait-based personalization in social media advertising

Stephan Winter, Ewa Maslowska, Anne L. Vos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Advertisements in social media can be tailored to psychographic profiles based on consumers' digital-trace data. An experiment (N = 936) investigated the conditions under which such trait-based personalization of social media messages is more effective than non-personalized messages and which personality traits and user characteristics are most suitable for this purpose. In a 9 × 2 between-subjects design, the persuasive appeal of a Facebook ad and the advertised product (phone vs. soda) were varied. Participants' ‘Big Five’ personality traits, need for cognition, and susceptibility to persuasive strategies were assessed in a questionnaire. Results showed limited effects of personality matching. Matched messages led to increased intentions to engage with the post when they addressed specific persuasive susceptibilities (particularly toward authority influence). However, there were no consistent effects on consumers' attitudes toward the advertised products. Findings are discussed regarding the ongoing debate on microtargeting in social media.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106525
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Advertising
  • Microtargeting
  • Personalization
  • Persuasion
  • Social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)


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