Think you're clever, hiding a brand message in what looks like an article or social media post? Consumers think you're misleading them and will punish your brand, reports MediaBrix.
When asked about and shown specific ad types on digital platforms, 45% of those who had seen them in the past 12 months found Twitter promoted tweets misleading, and 57% said the same about Facebook Sponsored Stories. Sponsored video ads draw the most ire, with fully 86% of respondents finding video ads that appear to be content misleading. Offline media are hardly immune: 61% had the same response to TV infomercials, and 66% to print or online advertorials.
"This study validates that people respond best to authenticity in advertising no matter the format. With the recent buzz around 'native' ad formats, I think we need to carefully consider best practices," said Ari Brandt, CEO for MediaBrix. "While anyone pushing the native ad agenda or otherwise would agree that we need to provide user experiences that are not jarring or disruptive, we also need to ensure that we are direct and honest with consumers about when they are being marketed to. Some formats achieve this better than others."
Annoyance was generally highest among the youngest consumers, the 18-34 demo. For example, 45% of those who found sponsored video ads misleading were in that age group, compared to 20% of ages 35-44, 11% aged 45-54 and 24% aged 55+.
Consumers don't appear to mind ads—as long as they’re relevant. In fact, MediaBrix found in August that an overwhelming 87% of Facebook app users prefer free apps, and 83% of those users favor keeping them free through relevant ads appearing during breaks in the game or app, rather than through in-app purchases. That survey also revealed that consumers prefer relevant, interactive in-app social and mobile advertising that appears during natural breaks in app/game usage, or those that add value through a value exchange such as a virtual good or currency in an app or game. So the differences are 1) the ads must be relevant, and 2) they must clearly be ads.
MediaBrix offered some hint as to what the ramifications are. 62% of respondents said Twitter Promoted Tweets negatively impacted or had no impact on their perception of the brand advertised, which begs the question, "did 1% say the impact was negative and 61% say 'no impact'?" But presumably, based on the above findings, there is significantbrand impact. 72% of respondents said the same about Facebook sponsored stories, and 85% about sponsored video ads that appear to be content.