WHAT IS AN ADVERTISEMENT, THESE DAYS?
When you think about traditional advertising, it was once pretty simple. You saw a television advertisement spruiking the benefits in a 30 second window – telling you to buy the drink. You drove past a billboard – telling you to drink the drink. There was a sports star – drinking the drink…
When it comes to finding the right voice and medium for a brand, product or service, marketers have a raft of options available. There are the age-old above-the-line channels, there are the targeted below-the-line channels. But as always, lines are a blurrin’, and what was-once considered an ATL brand-ambassador is now much smaller. And much more targeted. This is where digital strategy is providing new input to marketing and influencer marketing is taking off.
THE INFLUENCE OF INFLUENCER MARKETING?
For argument’s sake, let’s just say corporate credibility is non-existent. When it comes to consumer confidence, big brands saying the same things, the same message, over and over – it’s gotten old. Now combine that with the decline of traditional advertising (people fast-forwarding through TV adverts, increased streaming services, online media consumption, etc) and the increase in social media identities, new opportunities await. Marketers can spread their message via more authentic channels (and people). Smaller and lesser-known in the global sense, but highly respected in a local market, these social media identities have authentic reach. Even if considerably smaller than the Kardashian’s.
If you’re not sold on the rise, just look at this Google Trends graph of “Digital Influencer”, “Digital Influencers” and “Influencer Marketing”.
What does this mean for traditional advertising?
Marketers and brands will continue to spend on big budget ATL campaigns. But with an increased appetite for bang-for-buck and growth-hacking, there’s a new wave of marketers who are looking to get an eye-ball on their product via a new back-door opportunity.
Back-door opportunity, you ask?
Advertising in the United States has some pretty strict requirements that state an advertisement must be identified ‘to be an advertisement’. I was recently approached by a beer brewer – basically, they were happy to send me a slab in exchange for me posting something about it on my Instagram.
So is this an advertisement? The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) says that we have to properly disclose sponsored posts on Instagram. This is to crack down on deceptive influencer marketing, and influencers need to be sure they’re following the rules.
It all comes down to transparency, and some rules include:
- Placing your disclosure in a highly visible place
- Use easy-to-understand language
- Use the same language throughout (i.e. don’t write your disclosure in Spanish, if the rest of your post is English)
- Only share honest endorsements
However, if you’re a marketer and you just send stuff (like the beer), where there’s no obligation, it’s pretty much clean cut. It’s not advertising. The real determination is IF you’re asked to say something OR you’re just given stuff with zero terms.