What’s so bad about #ADs?

May 2, 2019

You’ve probably seen #AD at the start of many a blog post, Instagram picture and Facebook update lately and that’s thanks to the relatively recently amended disclosure guidelines set out by the ASA and the CMA. The guidelines state that the previous disclosures that bloggers and influencers were using were deemed unclear and so the inclusion of #AD was meant to make the relationship between influencer and brand as clear as possible.

However, it’s seems that although readers want to (and so they should) know whether the content they’re looking at has been created in exchange for a payment, a lot of working collaborations come under the same #AD label. I think this sometimes creates confusion as everything falls under the one label and it’s not always clear what the working relationship is.

What’s so bad about #ADs? at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

Have influencers been paid to lie?

For example, seeing #AD may make you think that an influencer/blogger has been paid hundreds of pounds to create content on behalf of a brand, which may be true, but they also could have been sent some 50p stickers and included them in their content. Admittedly both are forms of payment and both advertise a brand, but the monetary value is clearly very different. I think that seeing #AD makes a lot of people instantly assume that influencers have been paid to lie – especially when it comes to product reviews. We all state that our ‘words and opinions are our own’ when writing product reviews but as soon as many people see the #AD label, I think that they discount our honesty disclosure and assume the worst.

Understanding what an AD actually is.

Over the past few months, I’ve seen and heard a lot of negativity about #ADs. As a blogger, I believe this is down to the people not fully understanding what #AD means. That’s not a bad thing… I mean, influencers themselves have had to try and decode all the rules and gauge what counts as an #AD. I still see Facebook posts all the time in groups of bloggers trying to gauge if their post needs to be marked up as an #AD or not. It’s all very complicated. If the people writing these articles, posting these pictures and updating these Facebook statuses have to wonder if it’s an #AD or not, then how on earth would someone reading it know what constitutes as an #AD?

I guess my point is that just because a post says #AD, it doesn’t mean that it’s all made up or that the post is full of lies; it just means that a person has worked with a brand IN SOME WAY and the influencer has very sensibly disclosed this information to the reader.

When I first started blogging, I was a lonely mum looking for a way of sharing mine and Luke’s toddler crafts.

I never dreamt that I’d one day I’d work with and brands, let alone some of leading brands on the market. So I never set out to make a living or pay my bills by blogging.  However, it did become a possibility after a few years and I remember the first time a brand wanted to work with me on a product review. I felt honoured, excited and proud. Then I remember the first time someone offered to pay me for writing! I love writing, I enjoy it and being paid to do it felt amazing. I marked up my post as “sponsored” and felt proud of what I’d written and the hours I’d put in to making sure it fitted the brief in every way.

After that, more paid writing opportunities came in. More product reviews came in. I accepted them, thrilled that my blog was taking off and rising in popularity – heading in a direction I never thought possible. Even now when I decide to accept a brand collaboration, I’m happy knowing that being able to write for a living is helping me pay the bills and keep a roof over my family’s head. I’m a mum of two and without my blog, I’d be unable to afford my bills, I’d have to work a full time job and give up a lot of my income to pay for childcare, potentially leaving me in a worse off position than I am now.

For me, writing this blog is my job.

I need to earn from it, which is why I sometimes accept paid brand collaborations. If I get a lot of fun opportunities at once and I feel they fit in with the theme of my blog and would be interesting for my readers, I’d be mad not to accept them. It could be the difference between me paying my bills that month or not. I would obviously not accept work that goes against my beliefs or the themes of my blog even if the pay was attractive.

I haven’t personally had complaints, but I’ve seen other people who have. “Stop with the #ADs” is easy to say when you read a blog or watch a vlog in your spare time; but you’re essentially saying “stop earning money for you and your family”. I 100% understand that no one wants to see #ADs all the time, especially if you’re not entirely sure on what type of collaboration you’re looking at. I think more people need to elaborate on the #AD disclosure to make it more obvious what the partnership is.

“I’ve heard you loud and clear”.

I watched Mrs Meldrum’s “Life Update” video lately where she discusses doing less #AD work and says she’s “heard you loud and clear” in reference to the comments she’s received on her YouTube channel. She also goes on to explain that without #ADs and without YouTube, her mortgage doesn’t get paid as YouTube is her full time job as the main earner in the household. It’s easy as a viewer to judge people who post #ADs but I think it’s worth remembering that they have bills to pay too!

So, in conclusion, I suppose I’ll leave you with this:

  • If you’re a blogger and you see someone post up and #AD, support them. Click the link, share the post, give them or comment or a like. A good deed may send some positive vibes your way too.
  • If you’re not a blogger or influencer and you see an #AD, please don’t just assume that this person has been paid to write biased content or lie to you. It’s likely that person has spent hours writing, photographing and editing to present you with the most natural content possible and their opinions are likely true and honest.

So when you see #AD in the title or at the start of content, don’t assume the worst. Don’t ignore it and scroll on by just on the premise that it’s “a load of rubbish”. Don’t discount its value. That’s someone’s hard work and whether it’s ‘your thing’ or not, you shouldn’t berate the content creator for making a living.

Have you ever been put off reading content thanks to that big, fat #AD label? Have you ever commented on the amount of #ADs someone has posted in a certain amount of time? Let me know your thoughts in the comments – it’s a juicy topic and I’d love to discuss it with you further!

What’s so bad about #ADs? at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

23 Comments

  • Mellissa Williams

    May 2, 2019 at 2:19 pm

    I think a lot of readers of blogs don’t really understand about the new guidance. I mean a lot of bloggers don’t either. Bloggers create free content so have to pay the bills somehow and using AD is now heavily suggested for everything from review items to posts where you are being paid.
    Mellissa Williams recently posted…Planning A Route 66 USA Road TripMy Profile

    1. Joanne

      May 2, 2019 at 8:04 pm

      I think it is great that you can make a living from your blog. Generally any blogger review or sponsored posts I have read give an honest opinion so I appreciate the effort gone into researching and writing the post.
      Joanne recently posted…Life with two under 2My Profile

      1. Lukeosaurus And Me

        May 3, 2019 at 10:54 am

        I’ve always given an honest opinion…sometimes brands appreciate that and sometimes they don’t, but if you’re going to send someone something and ask them to publish their opinion of it on the big wide web, you’ve got to be prepared for some honesty.

    2. Lukeosaurus And Me

      May 3, 2019 at 10:47 am

      I think the problem lies with most people assuming content ADs are like the ads we see on tv – where they’re all being told to go and buy something. As you say, so many things come under this new AD label that no one knows what it means. Bloggers have been told to use it, but no one has told the readers what it means.

  • Lisa

    May 2, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    This is such a brilliantly written post on a really important subject. I get very frustrated when I see a lot of the bigger influencers (especially on Insta) who don’t disclose when they should know better. And equally, I get irritated when people complain about #ADs too because I’m sure they’d happily buy a magazine which usually has around 30 pages of adverts before you get to any editorial. As a blogger, I try to support my fellow bloggers who run #ADs because, as you say, we have bills to pay and just because it’s an #AD doesn’t mean it’s not valuable and worthwhile content!

    Lisa | http://www.lisasnotebook.com

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      May 3, 2019 at 10:49 am

      This is very true! I’m over here adding my #AD to the start of practically everything and then you see people who are clearly being paid to endorse a brand and not even mention it, or hide it in the hashtags/add it in at the end. In my eyes if you’re going to use it, you need to use it like everyone else and put it at the front. They don’t do that because it’s off putting but that really damages us “lesser” influencers as we’re seen as always hosting ads.

  • Sarah Stockley

    May 2, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    Well said. I have been blogging for 4 years, it started as a place to share craft tutorials and woodland walks. I literally only started making any money about 18 months ago. I still do a lot of sharing and writing about things I like, but I also have sponsored posts and reviews, I always disclosed in my posts if it was sponsored etc. Since I have been using #Ad I feel like I have lost some followers which is sad. Not a huge amount but enough for me to notice. Like you say, since I got made redundant, I rely on these posts to help pay my bills too. I will always make sure I support other bloggers.

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      May 3, 2019 at 10:50 am

      Yes me too, I’ve noticed that certainly the posts do not do as well and that’s sad because sometimes the AD will literally be something like a giveaway review item worth a fiver! There needs to be a better labelling system because blanketing them all under #AD is damaging to us all I think.

  • Natalie Brett

    May 2, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    I totally agree with you. They’re not a bad thing. I spend a lot of time and effort creating sponsored content and I’m always proud of the finished piece. We have to earn money to pay bills. You don’t see magazines being published with no adverts! Sponsored work supports the running of the blog – I wouldn’t be able to continue my blog without it.
    Natalie Brett recently posted…Three simple ways to tackle climate change and reduce your carbon footprintMy Profile

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      May 3, 2019 at 10:52 am

      I’ve been thinking about that too. There are ads everywhere and especially magazines where the content is mostly adverts anyway. It’s mad that they’re seen as bad things.

  • Viv Simone

    May 2, 2019 at 7:56 pm

    I started blogging last year and have started to work with a few brands and really appreciate the opportunity. Before I started blogging I would get annoyed at my fave vloggers having #ad in every video because it felt like they just wanted to sell us a product and didn’t care about unsponsored content. I think people would be more understanding if it was actually clear what #ad means for that collaboration. Hopefully they’ll be more awareness soon!

    Viv @ https://www.vivsimone.com
    Viv Simone recently posted…The Parenting Alphabet ChallengeMy Profile

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      May 3, 2019 at 10:53 am

      This is what I mean, unless you are the content creator, you just don’t know about it. I totally understand that and I have seen YouTubers mention before that they’re sorry about the ADs but they have bills to pay. It didn’t really put me off unless it was a dedicated video or post about something. When I write sponsored posts I try to make them interesting; rarely are they ever “go and buy this its awesome”.

  • Emmaa

    May 3, 2019 at 12:13 am

    As you say I think a lot of the issue is people not understanding what the guidelines require so posts like this are really useful. Thank you x

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      May 3, 2019 at 10:54 am

      It’s tricky because it’s a mystery to us in the industry so for our readers it must be so confusing.

  • Sabina Green

    May 3, 2019 at 7:33 am

    So many of us make a living from our blogs, I have always disclosed when reviewing items etc. I do find the #ad confusing, it does make it seem that we have been paid to say what the brand want us to, which is not the case. And yes sometimes gifted items have a low value and some may presume you have been paid to talk about these when we haven’t.
    Sabina Green recently posted…Postnatal Myth Busters by Hannah Barrett and Finola BurrellMy Profile

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      May 3, 2019 at 10:56 am

      There needs to be a better way of dealing with the disclosures. Sometimes writing a post about something for no payment (like a charity or similar) constitutes as an AD if the PR/Brand has had involvement with it, such as approving the copy before publishing etc. It’s a minefield for us so it’s no wonder readers/viewers are put off by it all.

  • Marie

    May 3, 2019 at 7:36 am

    I agree, people don’t always understand what the #ad means. I always, like you, click on link where I see it to support other bloggers!

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      May 3, 2019 at 10:57 am

      I’m glad you support other bloggers too! We should be celebrating the fact that they landed some paid work and they’re making their little corner of the internet work for them. 😀

  • Emma Reed

    May 3, 2019 at 9:40 am

    I must say that I hate the word ad because in my eyes it isn’t one. Unless you have been paid to specifically say hey buy this, it is amazing (like an ad on TV) then it isn’t an ad… but I guess that’s a whole other topic there! I do support those who put it as I have to put it too I just wish we didn’t have to because our work covers a range of areas and clumping them all under one name isn’t right.
    Emma Reed recently posted…How To Write A Book: 9 Tips And Tricks For New WritersMy Profile

    1. Lukeosaurus And Me

      May 3, 2019 at 10:59 am

      Exactly that! It’s impossible to blanket cover all types of collaboration under one label, I think it’s more misleading that it was before…now everyone’s confused, no one knows the rules and the readers still don’t know what type of content they’re reading/viewing. I agree with you – unless you’re ADVERTISING something in a persuasive manner, is it really an advert? Or are you just mentioning something that someone sent you and saying ‘yeah its okay..you can buy it here’

  • Kelly-Anne

    May 3, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    I don’t get why some people feel this way about ADs. I will always take the time to read and support the ads

  • Gemma

    May 3, 2019 at 10:40 pm

    I think putting #AD now makes it clearer for readers and also makes bloggers think twice about whether they want to promote something. I only accept products within my niche and have turned down quite a lot of opportunities as they don’t fit with my brand. I would only promote something I truly believe in and my followers know that as I am also transparent x

  • Claire

    May 8, 2019 at 8:34 am

    This is a great post. Bloggers have to pay their bills, so it’s understandable that they are paid to write content. I think it’s great that the guidelines are now clearer in regards to having to make it clearer if something is an ad, or sponsored, gifted etc.

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