A third of brands admit to deliberately not disclosing influencer marketing as sponsored content as they believe doing so will impact consumers’ trust, instead choosing to come up with “creative alternatives”.

That’s despite 77% of marketers saying they are fully aware and are up to date with the advertising codes and the guidelines set out by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Marketers’ concerns are somewhat unfounded though, given more than half (54%) of consumers say they don’t have a problem with influencers indicating a post is sponsored using #spon or #ad as they don’t believe it detracts from the credibility of a post, so long as the content is relevant.

This is one of the key findings of the Influencer Marketing 2020 study by Influencer Intelligence in association with Econsultancy, which is based on the views of both marketers (1,173) and consumers (500) in the UK and US.

When it comes to the transparency of influencer collaborations, 65% of marketers admit there is a blurry line between ads and genuine recommendations, which is leading to audience scepticism, with 66% of consumers claiming paid-for influencer content is no different to advertising.

As a result, 64% of marketers feel action must be taken to improve transparency. Looking ahead, 83% of marketers say better data and metrics that allow for more transparency and authenticity will be the biggest trend to impact influencer marketing strategies over the next two years.

The topic of transparency has been high on the agenda this year, with Unilever CMO Keith Weed highlighting his concerns around fraudulent activity at Cannes Lions, while the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation into influencer marketing in August.

The ASA has also just issued updated guidelines around the practice, which some including Influencer Intelligence’s Sarah Penny think still need to be tougher, and ISBA is looking to tackle follower fraud in its new influencer marketing contracts.

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of marketers do insist influencers use hashtags to indicate a post is sponsored though and, like Weed, 69% say they would refuse to work with an influencer who doesn’t comply with the guidelines.

Proving ROI remains a challenge