While perusing photos of someone on a hike and seeing the ever-so-popular “shoot before you eat,” you might see a long list of hashtags at the bottom of the post. For your brain, this is the exact moment where it stops paying attention. Most of the time, this isn’t a problem as the friendly “#nightwithfriends” can easily become a less important bit of information you need in your life. The problem comes into play when there is a hidden “#sponsored” or a “#ad” in the middle of the mess of hashtags.
Why is this a problem? Don’t you think you as a user should know when you are being advertised to? Not only is it common courtesy, it’s a law. Before this was a huge deal, movie theatres would show a split-second image of popcorn before the movie started. More often than not, people would get up to buy popcorn. It was an unfair advantage the movie theatres had over the consumers, which made the consumer feel cheated. That’s why it’s a problem.
Thankfully, with the new branding tool for Instagram, consumers will know for sure that those designer watches were paid sponsorships. No more vague marketing or long unread hashtag lists, and instead, a handy tool under the handle indicating a paid partnership with specific brands. Sadly, there isn’t yet a way to crack down on influencers that sneak in certain products into their photo, but this is clearly a step in the right direction. For now, it will at least provide a sense of comfort for the consumer, and a second thought for sneaky influencers.