In June, Instagram introduced a new tool that makes sponsored content a little more obvious. The feature allows users posting images and stories that qualify as ads to make that clear right up top with a "Paid partnership with [brand]" tag. That tool was expanded to more users in August and now, Instagram has made it available to users with a high level of engagement and anyone with access to its Insights data -- Instagram's analytics tool for those with a business account. Additionally, those that can use the tool will also begin receiving notifications when Instagram systems detect a post that could be an ad but hasn't been tagged as such.
Making ads stand out from other Instagram posts is good for consumers but it's also becoming more and more necessary as the FTC continues to crack down on celebrities and influencers who aren't complying with its advertising regulations. In April, the FTC sent over 90 letters to individuals it found weren't disclosing ads properly and followed up with another 21 in September that required responses from the recipients detailing if they were getting some sort of payment from brands in their posts and how they were planning to make sure they disclose those relationships properly. A Mediakix study released in June found that 93 percent of ads posted by top celebrities weren't disclosed in the manner required by FTC regulations.
Instagram's paid partnership tag is a step in the right direction, but the FTC says it might not be enough. During a Twitter chat hosted by the agency in September, it said that it didn't think these sorts of built-in tools sufficed.