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Car Dealers are ensuring that "Paid Product Placements" remain alive and well in the digital marketing era as social media sponsorship—compensating social media users, or “influencers,” for mentioning a dealership's vehicles or service department. While the practice initially drew criticism from some who argued that social media content should remain ad-free, the trend shows no signs of slowing. In a May to June 2012 poll, a majority of US marketers, 55.5%, told social media marketing company IZEA that they had provided a social media user with some compensation in exchange for a mention on the user’s social media channel. This reminds me of the conference "Scholarships" that the ADM Professional Community frequently provides to members who contribute a significant amount of high value content to the site.
The research also found that blog posts and tweets have emerged as the preferred mediums for sponsored social media messages among both automotive marketers and automotive influencers. In fact, 54% of dealership marketers have used a third-party blog to get their message out, while 55.4% of automotive influencers had published a sponsored blog post, making it the most popular medium among both groups. But sponsored tweets were not far behind—the poll found they were used by 47.3% of marketers and 51.8% of influencers in general.
Interestingly, auto industry marketers most often said they measured the success of their social media sponsorship campaigns through criteria that were difficult, if not impossible, to quantify. More than eight in 10 marketers at both the OEM and dealer levels said they thought quality of content was an important factor in measuring success, while three-quarters cited the importance of sentiment.
When the topic of compensation arose, influencers showed a clear preference for money: Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred cash. And while only three in 10 influencers preferred free product or service for their promotional work, just over two-thirds of respondents said they would accept it. Interesting enough, automotive Influencers had the least tolerance for payment that came in the way of dealership discounts or service coupons.
But paying influencers can raise some complications for both automotive marketers and c
onsumer influencers. While older media channels, such as TV and radio, are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), social networks are regulated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which has its own set of rules regarding sponsorship disclosures. In general, any time somebody is being compensated by a dealership to blog about a relevant topic, their user profile within the blog platform or social network used should clearly disclose that they receive compensation from the dealership. The good news is that this type of disclosure is not required within each article, but it must appear within the author's user profile prominently enough that the average person will see it.
Source of data and charts: http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1009188