The divide between editorial and advertorial content is not clear enough according to a new study, which found that nearly one in three consumers (30 per cent) are unsure if they have read advertorial content or not.
The research, carried out by native advertising company Vibrant Media, found that nearly half of these confused consumers (49 per cent) felt they had been misled. Of those who felt misled, nearly half (49 per cent) believed that the advertiser or publisher had set out to mislead them intentionally.
Of common long-form and short-form native advertising formats, advertorials proved to be the least identifiable as a type of advertising format to consumers. Two thirds of the 1000 UK consumers surveyed (66 per cent) did not identify advertorials as obvious advertising.
Hyperlinks placed within editorial to direct consumers to brands’ content on third-party websites were seen as the next most discrete form of advertising, with 39 per cent of consumers stating that it was obvious that such formats were advertising. Games ranked third with 60 per cent of consumers failing to recognise the formats as obvious advertising.
Craig Gooding, executive chairman and founder of Vibrant Media, said the research highlights a need for more effective mechanics that communicate the source of long-form native advertising.
“Consumers find great utility in advertorial – it’s informed, in-depth and retains the integrity of brands’ messages. However, irresponsible use of advertorial can be brand damaging. Brands must use the right labelling and transparency mechanics to ensure consumers do not get annoyed because they feel that brands or publishers have set out to mislead them.”
Consumers are savvier when it comes to brands advertising on social media, with 52 per cent recognising brands posts to profiles as blatant advertising.
Vibrant Media surveyed 1,000 people between the ages of 13 and 64 across the United Kingdom who owned at least one of a computer, a mobile phone or a tablet, each of which was connected to the Internet.