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.
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!