Coinciding with the growth of social media has been the rise of new digital celebrity/influencers. These people have garnered fame and followings through sharing their lives with millions of people online and, in turn, have tried to find ways to monetize it.
On Instagram in particular, most ad-posts are mixed in with collections of pictures as if it was just another post. However, Instagram has taken a step to maintain more transparency with users.
Going forward, Instagram will require influencers and celebrities to tag any material posted to their profile that is paid, promotional piece. Any sponsored posts will say "Paid partnership with..." so that said influencers' followers would know what is a paid post. This will be rolled out to a limited number of companies and celebrities to test the service and, if successful, will be rolled out for wide use across Instagram. This should be a fairly easy rollout since its parent company Facebook already uses a similar system for promotional posts.
"Our goal is to get a ton of feedback," said Charles Porch, head of global creative programs at Instagram. "It's all about transparency within the community."
This addition comes a few days after marketing firm Mediakix released a report revealing that over 90 percent of promotional posts were not labeled in line with FTC practices. This was just the latest in an ongoing back-and-forth between social media companies and the Federal Trade Commission.
Back in April, the FTC sent nearly 100 letters to celebrities and companies to disclose any sort of brand posting on Instagram. Even last summer, the FTC announced plans to for stricter rules when it came to social media postings in general. However, most celebrities and companies have continued posting on Instagram with no indication of what's a paid for post and what isn't.
This is just the latest in a wider trend of advertising and promotion revisions within several major web companies. Google recently issued several changes on the heels of this year's I/O event. The first was aimed to help advertisers by tracking offline purchases so the ad experience can be more tailored to the user. Google did issue a change for users and provided its own ad-blocker to cut down the number of spam ads that pop up. This is just one example of the tight-rope the web companies have to walk so advertisers and users stay, and now Instagram finds itself having to walk that tight-rope.