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Don’t try to pretend advertising is editorial content because consumers won’t be fooled

As celebrities who use social media to endorse products are warned that they must properly label their posts as advertising, a new global report warns marketers not to attempt to pass off branded messages as editorial or unbiased content.

The report from Kantar Media asked more than 5,000 people in the U.S., U.K, Brazil, China and France "'what counts as 'advertising'?" and 64 percent said they considered messages from brands on social media to be ads, as well as "native" content, which is when an ad is formatted to look like an article or social post.

"Even editorially-formatted techniques (like native), are seen for what they are by the majority. All formats can play a role in positioning and building a brand; but advertisers would be advised not to pretend that these advertiser-controlled messages are something they are not.

"Trying to fool the consumer by passing these ads off as objective in some way is unlikely to succeed," states Kantar Media's "Dimension" report, published online today.

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Most consumers recognize various forms of communication from brands as advertising, including "messages" from them in printed media (61 percent) and in news articles online (62 percent).

The report also reveals people's dislike of "retargeting," when an ad appears to follow them around the internet after they've looked at a product online. Seventy-one percent agreed or strongly agreed that "sometimes I see the same ad over and over again, it's too repetitive," and 55 percent agreed or strongly agreed that they often see ads for things they have already bought.

Kantar Media also asked business leaders their views. Toby Horry, digital marketing director at U.K. retailer Tesco, said he is cautious about retargeting.

"If I got one more sale by retargeting 50 times [but] I've annoyed hundreds of people in the process, was that one extra sale worth it? Probably not," he stated in the report.

However, people did respond positively to advertising campaigns that are relevant to them, with 55 percent agreeing that ads that are tailored to them are more interesting than those that aren't. Many brands are using personalized advertising campaigns, with Unilever using 150,000 different permutations of ads for its Axe deodorant brands in Latin America resulting in a more successful campaign overall.

Kantar Media researched 5,123 "connected" adults, who had internet access via a PC or laptop and a mobile device, using computer-aided web interviewing. It also interviewed 40 industry leaders in Brazil, France, the U.K. and U.S.

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