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CCI Graduate Spotlight: Nate Evans

Nate EvansDoctoral Candidate Nate Evans has accepted an assistant professor position at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. He begins his new career in August.
Nate took a moment to answer some questions about his experiences here in UT’s Communication and Information doctoral program and about his research.
Q: You completed your master’s program with us and now you are close to completing your doctoral program. Why did you initially select us for your graduate studies?
A: I started doing research on it, and it turns out it’s really one of the few R1 (research) schools that focuses solely on advertising as a concentration. And that influenced my decision to apply.
Q: Why did you decide to pursue your PhD?
A: I spent about a month contemplating whether or not I wanted to go into the industry, work in advertising or pursue more research. And ultimately I pursued more research, because there’s a lot of questions that came up after taking (Dr. Eric Haley’s Advertising and Society) class.
Q: What was it about that class that inspired you to pursue your doctoral degree?
A: It was a macroperspective on the influence advertising has on society and society influencing advertising, (a) broad swath of topics, including vulnerable populations. I really loved it.
Q: In what area of research are you most interested?
A: I’m really interested in newer forms of advertising placement, specifically what we call imbedded or integrating advertising in gaming contexts. We know right now that kids have a hard time understanding that it is meant to persuade; it is a means of commercial influence. But what we’ve assumed is that parents, and (all) adults for that matter, automatically know what it is. And that’s an assumption that I’m exploring.
Q: Tell me about your dissertation: “Activating Parents’ Persuasion Knowledge in Children’s Advergames: Testing the Effects of Advertising Disclosures and Cognitive Capacity.”
A: I’m actually testing to see if parents (of 7- to 11-year-olds) are able to activate their so-called persuasion knowledge when exposed to these games. I’m manipulating what we call advertising disclosures in an experimental setting. So I’m giving them information saying that this is an ad, both in an audio and video format, in two different conditions. I’m curious to see how that will affect their understanding of the advergame as an advertising format and also how that activation of their persuasion knowledge is going to affect their attitude about the game and whether or not there is a need for more regulation of the game, because right now there really isn’t any mandated regulation for such games; they’re self-regulated, so it’s up to the companies whether they want to let the players know it’s an ad, and the research says that this isn’t necessarily commonplace.
Q: After you begin your position at the University of Georgia, what other research projects do you hope to pursue?
A: I want to examine the impact of advergames in mobile advertising platforms, like smartphones and tablets, on children’s and parents’ understanding of and attitudes toward the advertising therein.
From the start of his doctoral program, Nate has worked hard to do well in his studies, research, and teaching. Showing a bit of humility, Nate gives much credit for his successes to the faculty here in UT’s College of Communication and Information who he characterizes as “excellent”: “They have taught me how to be a very good researcher, a very good writer and I don’t think that I would be where I am right now if it wasn’t for them.”