The great divide: Influencer content vs. display ads

Reading Time: 2 minutesIt’s pretty clear to consumers that brands are constantly trying to market and advertise to them online and through social media. Over the last 50+ years, we’ve seen the same basic format used for TV, print, and now social media advertisements; feature a picture of the product, a ‘fun’ tagline, basic benefits, and the product name. Every now and then we see an ad that goes outside of the box, utilizing an immense amount of creativity to provide an emotional connection with the audience. More often than not, however, these ads fade into the background of the consumer mind due to their predictable format and the oversaturation of similar ads within the market.

When presenting your product, it’s important to remember that the emotional connection is crucial for engaging consumers. Most people don’t care whether or not content is paid for as long as the quality is top notch and there is an emotional factor, as seen in our previous study on sponsored content vs. non-sponsored content. The need for content that is creative, genuine and relatable is exactly why brands are turning to influencers for help with marketing to consumers.


On the left is a picture of a traditional advertisement for Aveeno baby products, on the right is an image of sponsored influencer content created to promote Aveeno’s baby line.

We recently took a poll to see how people reacted to a blind comparison of traditional product ads versus organic content created by influencers. Out of 20,970 participants, only 830 preferred the traditional advertising format whereas 20,140 selected the influencer content as the more appealing advertisement. Roughly 96% of individuals prefer the genuine feel and appeal of the influencer imagery over the static product image with text. As they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words and with such a large gap in preference, it’s hard to deny the power of imagery.


On the left is a traditional advertisement that you’d see for Quaker Oats vs. an influencer-created post showing the product in use on the right. In our survey, individuals preferred the post on the right.  

The advertising landscape is changing, there’s no doubt about it – brands are faced with a choice. They can continue to push out traditional advertisements that will be ignored by consumers or they can choose to work with influential creative that can provide the genuine natural and emotional connection target audiences are responsive to. We don’t know about you but if we had to choose, we’d take the pictures on the right any day.

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