Influencer marketing and branded social media posts containing branded content are fast catching up to the traditional ad – but how do consumers feel about this development? According to new data from Kantar, one-third of consumers like branded content less than ads, and even more agree to some extent that they see too much branded content on social media.
In the study, respondents were asked to place themselves on a scale of 1-5, where opposing statements about branded content were associated with each end of the scale, and where 3 represented neutrality. When asked if they like branded influence content less or more than ads, the largest share (44%) of consumers were neutral, though sentiment was slightly negative towards branded content overall. One-third claimed to like it less than ads, compared to the one-quarter (24%) who claimed to prefer branded content.
When asked about the amount of branded content they see, some 42% agreed that they see too much branded content on social media while 22% were on the other end of the scale, claiming that they don’t notice it.
This slightly negative attitude towards branded content could stem from consumers’ awareness of disingenuous endorsements and influencers’ neglect of labeling guidelines. Previous research by Takumi found that these are some of the top reasons why consumers unfollow influencers. Indeed, 45% of respondents to Kantar’s survey agreed that branded posts should always be labeled, for example with #ad, whereas about half as many (24%) felt they didn’t need to be told.
With this in mind, respondents indicate that brands are doing a relatively good job at tackling mislabelled posts. Some 4 in 10 (39%) agreed that they definitely know when a post is sponsored and when it is not, while 1 in 4 (25%) don’t know whether or not the posts they see are branded content.
As ever, influencer marketing is a question of trust. Consumers value authenticity, marketers believe in transparency, and the importance of both is indicated in the fact that consumers are more likely to put their trust in online reviews than in influencer endorsements.
Read the full report here.
About the Data: Results are based on a survey of 8,000 connected customers in eight markets with a combined total ad spend of $400 billion.