Brands vs. babies: Paid content and authenticity in Canadian mommy blogs
Keywords:Blogs, Blogging, Mommy bloggers, Brand, Paid influencers, Cultural intermediaries, Source credibility, Authenticity, Credibility, Audience-as-commodity, Public relations, Paid media
This study examines the influencers with the specific interest of parenting during a specific period in early 2017 when what were then called ‘Mommy Bloggers’ were charging public relations firms and the brands they represent upwards of $2,000 per blog post to write favourable product reviews. Findings revealed their business model and ability to continue selling their audience as a commodity was in jeopardy as audience trust in bloggers was on the decline compared to any other information source about brands; new, albeit vague, regulations (not laws) required the blogger to disclose any commercial relationship; and qualitative studies revealed audience negative opinion of the takeover of commercial content and resulting lost sense of community. Using determinants of authenticity as a measure of a blogger’s ability to maintain her audience with a personal narrative, a quantitative content analysis of 290 blog posts published by 30 of the top parenting bloggers in Canada was used to demonstrate with correlations that paid content was threatening authenticity and that a blogger’s legitimacy as an influencer was being weakened by commercial content.
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