News headlines have been popping up everywhere regarding companies like Warner Bros Home Entertainment breaking FTC guidelines for failing to have their respective sponsored social content properly disclosed. April 2017 marked the first time the FTC reached out to influencers directly: the regulatory agency sent letters to nearly one hundred influencers and marketers stressing that they must “clearly and conspicuously” reveal their relationships to brands when being paid to promote the brands in social posts.
Have the FTC’s crackdowns had a negative effect on consumer consumption of sponsored content? Are they dismissing it altogether? Influencer marketing firm Collective Bias, an Inmar company, set out to find what consumers really think of sponsored content today through a survey of 2,111 consumers. Here’s what the survey revealed about the state of sponsored content and what this means for the future of influencer marketing. (Check out the infographic below.)
Quality is queen when it comes to sponsored content.
Take a look at this checklist:
- Is your sponsored content providing pragmatic information? (34% of survey respondents didn’t mind if a piece was sponsored content so long as it provided useful information.)
- Is your sponsored content relevant to the audience and of high quality? (37% didn’t mind sponsored content if it was high quality.)
- Does your target audience trust your brand/product? (28% didn’t mind if content was sponsored if they liked and trusted the sponsoring company or product.)
The survey revealed these are the key aspects to creating sponsored content that consumers will actually want to see in their feeds and on their favorite websites. Overtly promotional and non-personalized content will not float with ad-shunning consumers. Enlisting obtrusive or uninformative content formats will send consumers clicking elsewhere. Use the guidelines above to better inform your content marketing strategies: if you focus on creating content that is equal parts beneficial to the consumer and up to their quality standards, and then target it to users most likely to trust your brand, you’ve got a recipe for sponsored content success.
Sponsored content = sales.
Influencers have provided brands with a one-two punch of targeted audiences and personalized, ad blocker-free content. The most crucial piece of the puzzle is that audiences not only don’t mind if influencer-generated content and other forms of online content are sponsored, but they are also making purchases because of it. More than one-third of the survey respondents said they made a purchase based on sponsored content they viewed. Cha-ching.
Simply put, quality offsets any negative connotations that may be associated with sponsored content. In fact, less than 2 percent of survey respondents reported feeling annoyed or irritated by sponsored content. Sponsored and branded content have a clear and well-accepted position in the shopper’s path to purchase. That is, if it genuinely engages and informs readers, giving them the context they need to make informed purchase decisions. If you avoid pouring resources into generic and ambiguous online pieces, sponsored content as a viable ad format will be here to stay.