In our everyday lives most of us are inundated with ads, whether it be commercials on the radio or TV or print messages on billboards and other media. Many of us are used to this constant advertising presence and have found ways to live with it.
If we are aware that we are listening to or looking at an ad then we can choose to ignore it by either tuning it out, looking away or changing the channel. But what happens when we are not even aware that we are looking at an ad?
In a world of reality TV, twitter and blogging, the lines between reality and advertising are becoming increasingly blurred.
Kim Kardashian, for example, is known for tweeting images that appear to be genuine and candid snapshots of her daily life. While at first glance, her photos look spontaneous and unplanned, the reality is that a number of these posts include product endorsements (and it’s no secret that she gets paid).
While we may have grown accustomed to star endorsements, what about the smaller and more independent bloggers? Many companies offer affiliate programs that bloggers can sign up for. Those bloggers then receive special links with tracking codes that essentially alert the company when blog readers have been referred to that company’s site. The blogger can potentially receive a commission from that company for each referral.
How can you tell if your favorite blogger is cashing in on their readership? That’s a good question! Many fashion bloggers, for example, post links to apparel sold on third party websites. A quick click and you may see “ShopStyle” pop up. This is a popular collective of companies offering affiliate programs. If the “ShopStyle” page shows up and then you are redirected to another company’s site, your favorite blogger is most likely cashing in!
Reading tweets and blog posts are a fun way to get information and the latest scoop, but it’s important to bring awareness to what we read and see so that we can distinguish between heartfelt advice and hidden product plugs. A good way to stay alert and informed is to ask yourself questions like: What is this message conveying? Can I trust this source for my information? Are there any other sources that can provide more information or a different perspective?
Bringing awareness to what you read and see is a great step toward separating real life from the world of ads!