The Truth behind #SponsoredAd

This article comes to us from the Speaking Human University Program, which gives voice to the opinions and perspectives of the next generation of consumers and marketers… 

80% of smartphone users use their phone in the first 15 minutes of waking up in the morning¹. If you’re like me and you’re part of that 80%, checking your phone has become a habit you just can’t break. Social media has taken up a lot of my free time but recently I’ve spent less time scrolling because it feels like everything is bogged down with advertisements.

Times have changed

As much as I love social media, Instagram in particular has changed a lot in the past few years. In the past you used to be able to scroll through your timeline and see your friends posts recently if you start scrolling on Instagram you’re bound to come across a sponsored ad even if you don’t realize it at first. With the increase of sponsored ads The FTC, Federal Trade Commission stepped in to prohibit “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.”² After the initial restrictions in 2017 there has been a 360% monthly increase in sponsored ads in the past two years.³  Crazy right?!

My Findings

I did some digging of my own and found on average every fifth post, was an ad from brands I did not even follow! Not every ad is black and white, brands have stepped up their game to create content that catches the viewer’s attention before you can even realize it’s an ad. Check out what’s been on my timeline recently.

All of these posts are beautifully designed ads that blend in. If you ask me it is genius from a company’s perspective, but as a consumer it’s frustrating. I’ll end up clicking on an ad by accident which will trigger even more targeted ads for that product. It’s like jumping down a rabbit hole of sponsored posts encouraging me to buy new sneakers.

Instagram #ads

The thing all three of these #ads have in common is that you won’t find these posts on the company’s profile. That content is reserved for the brand while the ads are more targeted towards the consumers. Which is why the Dick’s Sporting Goods ad is a group of college girls my age, instead of the typical male athlete the brand is more known for. I almost clicked on their ad because it looked like one of my friends post. These “hidden” ads are just one way companies are bringing consumers to their profiles, and its working!

So what’s next for #ads?

What’s the next thing in #ads besides having “disguised” posts? Expect to see geotargeting and augmented reality moving to sponsored ads soon.4 What does this mean for us as consumers? Prepare to be flooded with more sponsored content, as if it’s not already too much.

Breaking it down

Geotargeting is a location based targeting technique. Meaning that companies can choose a specific location and only allow ads to shown in that area. Imagine you are at the mall and all of the sudden an ad for 15% off a pair of jeans pops up on your Instagram feed, this ad targets consumers that are in the mall, once you step outside of that location it no longer is shown. Would you be more likely to engage with the ad? That’s up to question since it could come off as intrusive to consumers.

This technique can come with benefits, if you’re already in the mall  shopping for jeans the ad would be beneficial to you as the consumer. The company who created the ad also benefits by target consumers at the location where the sale is made. This gives companies potential higher engagement and an increase in sales.

The second main technology is augmented reality or AR for short. This gives the consumer the ability to interact more with products virtually. This technology is being used on Facebook  and many retailers have seen its value. The furniture giant Ikea, uses AR  through its app letting users move and scale furniture in their own home. Applying this technology to an ad would increase engagement with users. Who wouldn’t want to stop and play around with a virtual living room set?

Check out this ad below.  How cool would it be to be able to move your phone around and see more of this kitchen and the machine that made this coffee? It opens up a lot of doors for consumers to interact with ads in a way they never could before.

In Conclusion

Will changes in the way #ads are delivered to your Instagram feed harm or increase users experience? Only time will tell, but with consumers constantly adapting there is hope for the future of Instagram ads.

What do you think? Share your thoughts on Twitter!

AUTHOR: Madelyn Assenheimer
ORIGIN: University Program - Speaking Human Contributor

Follow Madelyn on Speaking Human  /  Human Content from Madelyn

  1. 80% Of Smartphone Users Check Their Phones Before Brushing Their Teeth … And Other Hot Topics.” Constant Contact, 15 Dec. 2014, https://blogs.constantcontact.com/smartphone-usage-statistics/
  2. FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION WASHINGTON, D.C. 20580. https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/public_statements/896923/151222deceptiveenforcement.pdf
  3. Internet Influencer – US- August 2019. Mintel Reports – Mintel Group Ltd., https://academic.mintel.com/display/919396/
  4. Digital Advertising – US- August 2019. Mintel Reports – Mintel Group Ltd., https://academic.mintel.com/display/942940/





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