Preparing For The Era of AI-powered Synthetic Advertising: Theoretical Development, Practical And Policy Recommendations

Project Description

The recent technological innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are transforming the landscape of advertising, which enables highly personalized ads, the use of chatbots in e-commerce and brand communication, campaigns using deepfakes, and synthetic ads created by generative adversarial networks (GANs). This ultimately leads to the proliferation of synthetic advertising – a type of manipulated advertising – in which ads are “generated or edited through the artificial and automatic production and modification of data” (Campbell et al., 2021; p. 1).

Alarmingly, synthetic advertising with great manipulation sophistication (e.g., personalized ads, hyper-realistic videos) has been argued to positively affect consumers’ perceived realness and creativity of the ads, which in turn lead to positive attitudes and greater purchase intentions. Also, consumers often find it hard to detect falsities involved in synthetic advertising, which hinders them from making informed decisions. Extant research on this advertising phenomenon and related policy recommendations are lagging.

This project is to fill these gaps. The aims of this project are: 1) theoretically define synthetic advertising and examine consumers’ cognitive and affective processing of it, 2) develop a scale to gauge consumers’ literacy toward AI-powered synthetic advertising and identify their knowledge gaps, 3) to educate and inform consumers of the necessary literacy to recognize ad falsity in different forms of synthetic advertising and empower consumers to make informed decision, and 4) offer evidence-based and actionable policy recommendations to regulatory bodies in Singapore.

Research Technical Area

  • AI
  • Deepfakes
  • AI-powered synthetic advertising

Benefits to the society

The findings of this project will offer us a comprehensive understanding regarding the nature of synthetic advertising and Singaporean consumers’ literacy of it. Guided by these foundational works, we will review the current regulations in different countries, including Singapore, collect data from key stakeholders (advertisers and policy makers), and offer clear directions for regulatory bodies in Singapore. This project also aims to identify the gaps between current advertising practices and regulations in Singapore and inform future policy making pertaining to synthetic advertising in Singapore.

Project’s Publications

Team’s Principal Investigator

Assistant Professor CHEN Lou

Nanyang Technological University

Chen Lou is Assistant Professor in the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. Her research focuses on social media advertising, influencer marketing, and AI in advertising.

She is a mixed-methods researcher with a strong quantitative focus. She is experienced in a broad range of research methods including lab and online experiment, survey, in-depth interview, focus group, and data mining; In her recent publications, she has used eye-tracking and psychophysiological measures as well as topic modeling and sentiment analysis through a big data approach.

Her work has appeared in multiple top-tier journals in both advertising and communication, including the Journal of Advertising, International Journal of Advertising, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, among others. She was awarded the 2022 Top faculty paper award by the advertising division of AEJMC, 2021 Mary Alice Shaver Promising Professor Award by the American Academy of Advertising (AAA), the 2021 Outstanding Reviewer Award by the Journal of Interactive Advertising (JIA), the 2019 Best Article Award in the JIA, and was also a recipient of the 2021 and 2019 AAA Research Fellowship Grants, respectively.

She serves as an Associate Editor in the International Journal of Advertising (IJA) and the Journal of Interactive Advertising (JIA).

The Team

Co Principal Investigators

Edson C. TANDOC JR., Nanyang Technological University
Research Focus: Digital journalism, fake news

Elison Ai Ching LIM, Nanyang Technological University
Research Focus: Emotions and affective display; culture and cross-cultural consumer differences; language effects in advertising

Tao CHEN, Nanyang Technological University
Research Focus: Corporate Finance; environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG); FinTech

Luu Anh TUAN, Nanyang Technological University
Research Focus: Artificial Intelligence (AI); Deep Learning; Natural Language Processing (NLP); information extraction & semantics