Sponsored posts, for those not in the know, is also known as advertorial or native advertising. In our field, it means a company has paid (in cash or in kind) a blogger or website writer to write an endorsement. It must be disclosed as such, according to the FTC.
I first questioned writing content in exchange for pay or freebies in 2010, in “Should Food Bloggers Write Sponsored Posts?” Responses were mixed. Some of the plus side comments were:
- “If the writer is clear about receiving money or free products, then it’s okay.”
- “Magazines get free stuff and then they write about it, so why can’t we?”
- “Television shows promote stuff (called product placement) for a fee so why can’t we?”
And on the minus side:
- “Some people will write rave reviews of anything they get for free.”
- “If I see that a blogger is shilling for a product or company – or is writing a restaurant review based on a free meal – I don’t necessarily take that content very seriously.”
- “The knowledge that someone is paying to have that person write about a place or product makes me feel like the blogger is, for lack of a better term, ‘selling out.’”
But now, regardless of what we think, a study of 542 people on Contently shows that most people aren’t even sure what sponsored content means. Only half think it means that a sponsor paid for and influenced the article. Some 13 percent think the sponsor actually wrote the article. In addition:
- Two-thirds felt deceived upon realizing the article was sponsored by a brand
- More than 50 percent don’t trust sponsored content
- More than 50 percent think a site loses credibility if it includes sponsored content
- Fifty-seven percent prefer a banner ad to a sponsored post
- Less than 1 percent would be likely to click on an article sponsored by a brand.
Another finding in this study: When asked “What do you think is generally higher quality?” people gave the category “Blog posts by mommy bloggers” the lowest rating. The highest was “articles in a printed newspaper.” Bloggers — especially moms — have a credibility problem.
Does this study change your mind or influence you about whether you should do sponsored posts? Do you do sponsored posts mostly to make money?
(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)