When #sp turns an Instagram photo into an ad

When it comes to advertising, companies are learning not to sail against the wind. If you are active on social networks, you may have noticed raving reviews of everything from soccer balls and shoes to PlayStation consoles that celebrities post, full with their pictures with the coveted object.

So far, so good? Not really. The Federal Trade Commission and watchdogs have cried foul for this surreptitious form of publicity. And stars have responded swiftly, in the form of a hashtag. So, #ad, #sp, #paid, and the like are now accepted forms of advertisingon Instagram, Snapchat and other social platforms. And that is legit, apparently.

Big names are profiting from this new form of commercial promotion, from Kim Kardashian and her family of socialites to Warner Brothers. But as the lines separating commercial content from news and social media posts are getting blurred, the future of advertising remains up in the air. The traditional model is certainly in crisis, but it is not clear what is going to take its place.

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