Nearly half of Britons (48%) would actively avoid clicking an affiliate link to prevent an influencer from making a commission on a sale, according to new research by performance marketing network affilinet.

According to the poll of 2,300 UK adults, the attitude among the majority (29%) stems from a belief that influencers already make too much money, with the average respondent believing those with more than 100,000 followers can make as much as £95,000 a year through their work.

With questions emphasising financial motivations and transparency of influencers, other concerns ranged from a lack of “honesty” between influencers and their followers (21%) and the belief that blogs and social media should not be used to make money (14%).

Meanwhile, 9% admitted they were frankly “jealous” of the industry lifestyle and their lack of a “proper job”.

Putting on the dampers

As a result of sceptical consumer attitudes to the commercial slant of influencers, just under a quarter (23%) admitted they had clicked through to buy a product or experience after seeing it featured or reviewed on an influencer’s blog or social media page.

The research by affilinet certainly rains on the belief that influencer marketing represents one of the biggest trends in affiliate advertising this year, with many networks making large-scale technological investments into the channel.

While the results may be isolated to the UK, consumer trust may be a much bigger barrier than first thought; the majority now savvy enough to sniff out the distinction between what’s authentic content and when they’re being sold to.

Rick Leake, affilinet’s client services director, believes it comes down to an education issue, with consumers vastly overestimating the commission earned by day-to-day influencers.

“For those that don’t fully understand the ins and outs of running a successful blog and highly engaged social media channels, it can be all too easy to assume that everyone with a certain number of followers are making the kind of money that the likes of Zoella and Tanya Burr are reportedly bringing in.”

Leake adds that while jealousy will “undoubtedly” play a role in why so many don’t want to financially contribute to influencers’ pockets, in reality, with such a growing number of influencers emerging, “it’s never been harder to stay afloat as a freelance blogger and content creator”.

ASA investigates

Alongside the release of affilinet’s research today (March 15), the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced it would be reviewing how paid-for influencer and native advertising is signposted online, planning to examine people’s ability to identify when content is advertising.

At the start of 2018, 71% of UK consumers stated that they were unaware on how influencer marketing was regulated, while a further 49% stated they were not aware of the language of disclosure, including hashtags such as #spon, #sp and #ad.

“People shouldn’t have to play the detective to work out if they’re being advertised to. That means the status of a tweet, blog, vlog, Instagram post or story should be clear,” said the ASA’s CEO, Guy Parker.