sponsored-sliderHow many times have you been visiting a site rich with content, and you begin to wonder if what you’re reading is something written by one of the writers because that’s what they wanted to write about, or if they are writing it because they got paid to do it?  It seems that no matter what sort of disclosures or design tweaks sponsored articles get on leading online writings and publications, there are plenty of times that consumers will confuse sponsored content with actual articles.  This information is coming directly from the latest survey by Contently.

In a nutshell, sponsored content is usually designed to blend in with the look and feel of the other articles on a particular site.  There are times when a written disclosure, such as “Sponsored” or “Advertisement” aren’t seen, even if you’re actively looking for it.  Because o this, it’s understandable when people find it difficult to tell the difference between sponsored content, and normal brand content.

In Contently’s survey, 509 consumers over the age of 18 were shown an online brand sponsored piece from the New York Times, The Atlantic, The Onion, BuzzFeed or Forbes, or an actual article on Whole Foods in Fortune.

In four of the six groups shown a native advertisement, a majority of those surveyed believed that they thought the ad was an article.


According to the survey, more respondents were more likely to identify native ads as articles in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and BuzzFeed than those who shown a real article in Fortune.

If you’re interested in seeing screenshots of the articles, which includes the disclosures, you can check them out on the Contently blog.

Respondents were less likely to trust sites who published brand sponsored content in general.

Oddly enough, according to the study, native ads can actually life brand approval.  For those who were shown the Miracle-Gro on BuzzFeed, which is the highest rated ad in quality, 30 percent said that it made them trust the brand more.

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