Paid $75,000 to Love a Brand on Instagram. But Is It an Ad?

The New York Times
Sapna Maheshwar

For marketers contending with consumers who use ad blockers online and have cut the cord to their TVs in favor of streaming services, social media has become a way to reach an elusive audience. Brands such as Jack in the Box and Red Bull have proved willing to pay thousands of dollars per social media mention to people like the Kardashians and other so-called influencers who command big, loyal followings on services like Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube.

These mentions, however, are often presented as testimonials rather than advertisements, a practice that at least one consumer advocacy group has claimed is deceptive. And the Federal Trade Commission has found itself struggling to articulate exactly how these sorts of paid brand endorsements should be handled to ensure that they are identified as ads.

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