When an Instagrammer posts sponsored content and they use the #ad or #sponsored, it does and should absolutely matter where in the post that disclaimer goes. The point of the disclaimer is to make the reader, viewer or fan aware that the post is of a sponsored nature and wasn’t created with genuine intentions of reviewing a product honestly, without receiving any sort of financial gain.
As someone who writes articles on a weekly basis, it’s well-known that a reader doesn’t read through most of an article. They only get through the first three, maybe four paragraphs, if they make it past the headline. If one is an avid reader or is especially interested in the topic at hand, then they may read on; however, that will not happen a majority of the time. That does not mean journalists only write three to four paragraphs and then call it a day. They put the most important information at the top of the story, like an inverted pyramid, and trickle down to the least important information that is still contextually necessary for the story as a whole. For the Instagrammer, the most important information is the advertorial post that they are trying to publicize. By putting #ad or #sponsored at the bottom, they are diminishing its value, and therefore almost hiding its existence. That’s why it is often seen that Instagrammers even put in the location bar a SPONSORED logo, which tells the reader upright that this is not a genuine post but is rather meant as an advertisement.
By enforcing this, we are creating a more transparent feed. If one doesn’t want to read a post as an advertisement, they can keep scrolling. If one is curious as to what this Instagrammer is sponsoring, then they can continue on. That is the gamble that the advertisers are paying for by using the Instagram platform, one that is traditionally a social media page that was not conceived necessarily as an avenue for sales. As one scrolls through a sea of images with short to long captions about their friends, family and dogs, encountering an advertisement is out of the ordinary, but is still a part of how the social media mogul is adapting to continue evolving and better serve its users, including those users who make a significant profit off the application.
For the sake of the advertisement and its credibility, it is important that both the Instagrammer and the sponsor are both upfront about the intentions of the post. The consequence to this is if more and more Instagrammers begin posting too much advertorial content, they may end up losing followers. If those followers are faithful, though, they will stick behind the Instagrammer no matter what.
Rachel Ettlinger, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s Spring 2018 Media Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the following question: Does it matter where you tell your followers a post is sponsored content (I.e. the beginning of the post v. the end of the post)? Should it matter? Do people really even read through to the end of Instagram captions or watch through full YouTube videos or are they likely to miss the sponsorship statement?