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INSTAGRAM business models

Business Model Prevalence in Influencer Marketing on Instagram

Thales Bertaglia, Catalina Goanta & Jerry Spanakis

The monetization of user-generated content on social media platforms through advertising is a rising phenomenon. One of its expressions, integrating advertising in the actual content (also known as influencer marketing) led to a 9 billion dollar industry in 2019 and is projected to reach a worth of 15 billion by 2022. The buzz around this trend has led to a lot of legal research on the standards applicable to the disclosure of advertising in various jurisdictions around the world. In addition to existing rules, regulators seem to have caught on to the fact that through its nature, influencer marketing leaves room for more potential to mislead or deceive consumers. While regulatory pressure is supposed to improve the standard of consumer protection, influencer marketing remains a peer-to-peer industry defined by a plethora of business models. Our research project brings together expertise from Natural Language Processing (NLP) and European Consumer Law and aims to make a gap-filling contribution focused on determining which particular influencer marketing business models can be identified on social media, and how influencers use them. To this end, we gather Instagram posts from selected influencers from different countries, and we design a classifier to identify the recognizable business models and analyze their prevalence. By comparing the results from different countries, we hope to gain insights into whether influencers from countries with more stringent enforcement disclose more of their commercial activities than their counterparts in countries with less rigorous enforcement. In addition to the empirical part of the project, we also describe the legal regime applicable to each business model according to European consumer protection, to contribute to the interdisciplinary development of computer science and consumer protection in ways which can inspire further research, vital for the interests of consumer enforcement agencies.

RESEARCH OUTPUT