Instagram to Crack Down on Shady Sponsored Posts
The days of incognito ads on Instagram may be coming to an end.
The Facebook-owned social network on Wednesday introduced a new branded-content tool to help users more easily identify when posts are sponsored.
"In the coming weeks, you'll start to see a new 'Paid partnership with' tag on posts and stories that are sponsored," according to a post on Instagram's business blog. This new feature will help celebrities and other users "more clearly communicate to their followers when they are working in partnership with a business."
Instagram called the new tool a "first step in ensuring transparency of paid partnerships" on the platform. In the coming months, the company plans to launch an "official policy and enforcement for creators to follow" when posting sponsored content, which will be based on Facebook's current practices.
Shady ads are huge problem on Instagram -- a recent study from marketing agency Mediakix revealed that 93 percent of sponsored posts from the top 50 Instagrammers were in violation of the Federal Trade Commission's rules.
"We found that celebrities who post sponsored content may, on average, post 3 FTC compliant posts a year vs. 58 posts that are non-compliant," the marketing agency wrote.
According to the FTC's guidelines, all sponsored posts on Instagram must include clear and conspicuous disclosure like #ad or #sponsored near the top of captions, so people viewing the post on a smartphone will see that it's an ad without having to press the "more" button.
The FTC last month sent out more than 90 letters reminding Instagram stars and marketers that they need to "clearly and conspicuously disclose their relationships to brands when promoting or endorsing products through social media." That marked the first time the agency had reached out to social media influencers directly about their responsibility to be transparent when posting ads on Instagram.