Making sure ads are seen

May 03, 2018

When I see an ad on social media, especially Instagram, I tend to scroll right on by. If I'm able to speed it up to get to whatever post I was originally looking at, I go ahead and do that. I try to avoid advertisements at all cost. However, this changed when I was viewing people's Instagram stories and I saw the words "Free Leggings." You can bet I clicked on the ad, and I actually found myself taking advantage of the free leggings. That was the first time I had ever answered to an ad on Instagram, and I found it to be a pleasant experience.

Obviously, the word "free" drew me in, which was why I didn't scroll past it like I usually do. Giving discounts or doing giveaways is a great way to get Instagram users to not scroll beyond the ad. This is an important pattern for advertisers and marketing firms to utilize. Even if there was a sale happening that took a percentage off the product(s) sold, then I think that would be enough to bring those being advertised and have them go farther than just scrolling past the ad. Otherwise, I think it's very likely that people will not take the time to read or view the advertisement, and the revenue generated from the ad will decrease.

I think on a first glance, especially in Instagram stories, it's not very obvious that influencers or brands are posting advertisements, and that's clearly on purpose because it tends to blend in with one's personal feed. This could lead to someone scrolling too quickly past an ad, potentially. Including more disclosures other than the #ad or ^sponsored would definitely be redundant, since having those identifiers in place does the purpose it is meant to do, which is to inform the viewer that they are viewing ingenuine, marketing content. But including those hashtags and creating that transparency is not what I would consider "overkill" at all; if anything, it would be the transparent, appropriate thing for influencers and the brands in which they are sponsoring to do.

I think if a marketing firm and advertisers do their job correctly, then followers and viewers will want to click on the advertisements with the knowledge of their purpose, like what happened with my paying the shipping and handling to qualify for a "free" pair of leggings. It worked for me, and there's no reason it shouldn't work for other people as well.


Rachel Ettlinger, a student in Jon Pfeiffer's Spring 2018 Media Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question:When an influencer reposts a brand's ad or Instagram picture, do you think it's obvious that it's an ad? Or do people scroll by too quickly to notice that it wasn't the influencer's personal post? Should influencers include extra disclosures in their descriptions just to be on the safe side, or is that overkill?

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