93% Of Top Celebrity Instagram Ads Aren’t Properly Disclosed
Anyone who spends time on Instagram knows that celebrities are doing #ads, and also that there are lots of times a celebrity is clearly doing an ad but isn’t really admitting it, which is kind of shady.
But there’s never been an attempt to actually find out how much #spon is out there – and how much of it follows the FTC’s guidelines for disclosing sponsored content. Then in May the marketing firm Mediakix issued a report on how many advertisements each of the top 50 Instagram accounts post per month, and how many of those are FTC compliant. What they found is that 32 of the top 50 celebrities did some sort of sponsored post. And of those posts, 93% don’t meet the FTC’s guidelines.
How The Numbers Were Counted
Mediakix won’t publish the actual list of Instagram ads (they work with some of the brands), but the company did allow BuzzFeed News to view its list so we could verify their calculations.
First, they took the top 50 celebrities on Instagram. That list isn’t exactly a secret; you can see it on Wikipedia (just take out anything that’s not a person, like @instagram or @natgeo) It’s mostly entertainers like Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Gigi Hadid, Katy Perry, a few international soccer players, and of course, the Kardashians. There are some celebrities who did NOT post any ads, like Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Adele, Lebron James, and Emma Watson.
Next, they looked at all their posts (no Stories) over a four-week period in April 2017. They counted how many of those posts were ads – 152 total ads. Then, they counted how many of those ads followed proper FTC guidelines for advertisements. Only 9 out of 152 were FTC compliant.