U.S. Online Users Often Feel Deceived by Sponsored and Branded Content

When sponsored content by brand publishers isn’t clearly disclosed online, many users take note. This is according to a new report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, which found that many online users don’t like dealing with advertising or branded content that interrupts their online experience.

In fact, 43 percent of users in the U.S. (and closer to a third in the UK) report that they feel deceived or disappointed when they consume content that is actually sponsored by a brand online.

branded content marketing

The study also found that the older a user was, the more likely they were to feel deceived or disappointed from branded content that they didn’t know was sponsored when they started reading.

The users reported that the following types of online advertising within content were the most obtrusive:

  • Pop-up ads
  • Auto-play videos
  • Banner ads that block content from being read or accessed
  • Pre-roll video ads

Ad-Blocking Software

Another finding of the study was the fact that almost half of computer, mobile, and tablet users (when combined) have installed ad-blocking software on their device. These types of software block banner and pop-up ads (as well as other types of ads, depending on the available options), so users are only seeing the actual content.

Ad blocking software study with content marketing

However, the software only blocks native advertising that is coded as such. It wouldn’t block sponsored content or branded posts, like those that appear on BuzzFeed, the New York Times, or other major outlets.

It will likely be important for brands to create content that is discovered organically in the future, as traditional forms of advertising seem to be losing some of their value.

Screenshots taken from report.

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