HAVING just received the latest PlayStation console from Sony, Dele Alli, an English footballer, posts a photo of it to his Instagram account. He dutifully thanks his benefactor and concludes the message: “#ad”.
It is the latest frontier of a rapidly growing industry. Since January, more than 200,000 posts per month on Instagram, a picture-sharing app owned by Facebook, have been tagged with “#ad,” “#sp” or “#sponsored”, according to Captiv8, a firm that connects brands to people like Mr Alli. Most are reaching Instagram users via such celebrities. Hiring “influencers”, as they are known, connects brands to a vast network of potential customers. Kim Kardashian West, a reality-TV star, for example, reaches 160m people across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Consumers love the unprecedentedly deep access to the lives of the rich and/or famous that platforms offer. DJ Khaled, a music producer and prolific poster on Snapchat (another picture-messaging app), delighted millions of his followers with live video updates of himself lost at sea at night on a jet ski. He is also an influencer for a brand of…Continue reading