We’ve shared posts about how influencers are using Instagram Pods and bots to falsely inflate engagement on posts, and if it all seems like there's too much to keep track of, DigiDay did you the favor of creating a nice little cheat sheet, detailing the ways influencers attempt to game the system. Two eye-popping stats from their findings include:
- A single day’s worth of posts tagged #sponsored or #ad on Instagram contained over 50% fake engagements, according to data from anti-fraud company Sway Ops. Out of 118,007 comments, only 20,942 were not made by bot followers.
- Out of 2,000 posts, an average of 1,964 sponsored posts made per day contained Instagram pod activity, fake comments, fake likes, and/or uneven ratios of bot followers to engagements.
That second bullet point is particularly damning. And yet, influencer marketing doesn't seem to be slowing down. In fact, it seems like teen app Music.ly is pretty fertile ground for influencer marketing geared towards Gen Z, with brands like Disney and KitKat exploring how to get in front of advertising's new favorite demographic.
"The sidelines have been erased"
Adweek ran a really great POV on the value of brands taking a stand on moral and social issues. The writer raises a few really great points, weighing in on the short-term and long-term consequences of taking action vs. doing nothing:
When brands avoid taking a stand on tough social issues and on the current news cycle, it’s a missed opportunity. Marketers must ask: What does my brand stand for? There is endless strategizing on creating brand identity, voice and personality, and it has to also include strategizing around a moral framework—some foundation of what a brand believes in and believes is worth fighting for.
She also explores how brands have become woven into the cultural context of our society and how brand silence is louder than it used to be. It all lines up pretty well with what we know about Millennials' views on brands' social responsibilities (hint: they super-care about brands who take a strong stance when it comes to these kinds of issues).
A New Kind of Radio
Podcast "Superlisteners" may present a huge opportunity for brands and advertisers. A new study shows that podcasts are seeing that sub-sections of podcast mega-fans are actively recommending podcasts to friends and are serving as exceptionally evangelical loyalists to their favorite programs (96% recommend their favorite podcasts to others). These people are consuming twice the content, and prefer long-form content to shorter daily recordings.
So why does this matter for brands? Well, podcast hosts are able to play a role that feels somewhere between influencer, celebrity endorser, and traditional radio. Per Adweek (emphasis ours):
The average listener has to hear a brand mentioned... about 25... times before they check out the product..., but 75 percent of listeners do end up taking an action after all. Podcasts are intimate experiences that listeners opt in to and expect a trusted environment with hosts they enjoy.
This makes a pretty interesting case for a medium that we've all seen on the rise. An estimated 67 million people listen to podcasts each month, with the industry projected to be worth $220M by the end of the year.
Net Neutrality Expected to Be Repealed
Within weeks, net neutrality is expected to be repealed. Which is horrible news if you are a person who uses the internet. Continue below for a quick summary of why net neutrality is important, or watch this 3-minute video if you’d like to avoid reading for the time being.
Without net neutrality, Internet Service Providers... will legally be able to... give preferential treatment to services they directly profit from and block those they don’t, all the while charging internet companies like Netflix additional fees for speedier access to consumers—costs that you can count on being reflected in your monthly billing statement.
While several major ISPs have... promised never to do any these terrible... things… Comcast actually deleted [this] promise [from its website] after the vote [was announced].
It's bad for consumers, it's bad for fledgling companies, innovators, and startups, it's bad for just about everyone but major corporations. "Disruptors" like Snapchat or Spotify would never have succeeded if they didn't have the opportunity to compete on an even (or "neutral") playing field.
Meanwhile, the FCC's website, where they have been fielding public comments around Net Neutrality, appears to have been infiltrated by a Russian troll farm, which is also a pretty big cause for concern.
A study has found more than 7.75 million comments were submitted from email domains attributed to FakeMailGenerator.com, and they had nearly identical wording. The FCC says some of the nearly 23 million comments... were filed under the same name more than 90 times each.
And then there were the 444,938 from Russian email addresses.... The oddities in the FCC’s inbox have attracted scrutiny from New York’s attorney general and from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which has opened a probe.
While this hasn't officially been tied to the ongoing investigation into Russia's influence in the 2016 election on platforms and publishers like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, it certainly seems, on the surface, like it could be a further attempt to sow discord in American politics.
Net neutrality certainly isn’t a sexy topic, but it is not an exaggeration to say that the internet could see some pretty profound changes over the next several months. If you're interested, you can read more here.