Instagram is creating a standardized format that should
make it clearer to everyone when a post has been paid for by an
advertiser.

These aren’t for ads that businesses buy directly from
Instagram, but rather for influencer marketing, where brands
pay celebrities and other users with a significant online
following to promote their products. It’s an area that every
big tech and media company seems interested in, but
it’s also creating questions around disclosure and
transparency.

In fact, the Federal Trade Commission recently sent letters to
more than 90 influencers reminding them that
they need to “clearly and conspicuously” disclose when their
posts are sponsored. That means they shouldn’t hide the
disclosure under the “more” button, or use ambiguous language
like “Thanks, [Sponsor Name Here]!”

Instagram’s Creative Programs Director Charles Porch told me
that most influencers and advertisers are looking for a clear,
straightforward way to make these disclosures.

“People are building amazing businesses on Instagram all over
the world, at all sorts of scale,” Porch said. And those users
are “looking for ways to be super transparent with their
followers when they have a partnership.”

Aimee Song sponsored post

So with this new feature, influencers tag a brand as the
sponsor for their post, which accomplishes two things.

First, it means the post will include a “Paid partnership with”
notification at the very top. (These disclosures can also show
up on Instagram Stories.) It’s not exactly a giant banner
warning users that the post is an ad, but the language is
straightforward and the placement will make it hard to miss. At
the same time, the tag also means the advertiser will
automatically get access to the same data as the influencer
around a post’s reach and engagement — and that data will show
up in the same Facebook dashboard as the rest of their
advertising data.

Instagram is currently testing this new tool out with select
users, including BuzzFeed and Aimee Song. But will the company eventually
require everyone to use with these tags when they run sponsored
content?

“Right now, we’re still in phase one,” Porch said. “The goal is
to one, educate people and two, get a ton of feedback … There
will be enforcement, but first we want to get feedback on how
everyone reacts.”

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