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#ad – Transparency And The Blogger

#ad #sp #sponsored. That wasn’t so hard to write.

It is though, much harder to know when to write.

During a recent talk with the ASAI, it became very clear that the lines are blurred. With a packed room full of bloggers and influencers, all from differing backgrounds and professions, the subtle nuances of paid content in each category were apparent.

The question asked repeatedly in different forms was “If a brand or advertiser gives me a gift (something for free) and doesn’t ask me to put up a post but I like it and do it anyway, do you use #ad?”

The answer was… it depends.

Agencies, brands and advertisers need influencers. As my colleagues who were speaking at the event pointed out, there is a very low and unproportioned allocation of spend going into the industry. Customers are looking for trusted sources and influencers, if compliant, are those sources.

As an agency, we owe it to their industry to be clear on when and where to use those hashtags. It differs from country to country and each category of blogger has different challenges.

So blogger and influencers lets be clear… when do you use #ad?

Well as the ASAI said, it depends and that’s the problem. But it’s easily navigated.

Let’s take a common example. You’re invited to a hotel by an agency or the hotel themselves. There is no obligation to post about or review your stay but as agreed, you also don’t have to pay for your stay. You had a great time, so you create some content and you give them a great review. They don’t have any control over your content and they have given you no direction on what to write. So, you don’t need to put #ad even though you got a free stay in a hotel.

BUT why wouldn’t you call out that you got a free night in a hotel? Say it at the very start and be as transparent as possible. Your readers won’t mind that you had a free stay, why would they? They realise what industry you work in. They would however mind if they found out that your night’s stay was free and you didn’t say anything. It’s going to be a lot harder to explain all of these nuances after your fans have already lost trust in you.

#ad is not a black mark against an influencer’s post but deceiving the user is.

If in doubt, use your best judgment.