A recent study from Contently shows that more than half of consumers don't trust sponsored content (advertising disguised as legitimate news). Even worse for media brands that run such content, 59 percent say that news sites that run such content lose credibility. Interestingly, Contently is a producer of content for brands that regularly appear as sponsored content.

The study also found that only half of the respondents to the survey understood what sponsored content actually is. The more they knew about it, the less they trusted it, meaning that as people become more aware of the practice that the effectiveness will continue to drop.

Surprisingly, the more savvy consumers actually preferred banner ads over sponsored content. Apparently people prefer to be approached honestly by brands looking to build market share instead of being tricked into reading a “news” article that is trying to sell them on a product or service.

To Contently’s credit, as content producers, the company is attempting to become a more credible brand producer. Instead of acting as a news story, the company believes that truth in advertising is important and subscribes to the opinion that making it clear what sponsored content is and creating better content will improve sponsored content’s reputation.

Most of us have probably been suckered into a sponsored content pitch at one time or another. Blatant advertising disguised as news is repugnant, but if we know that we are reading content that has an agenda and the quality of the content is worthwhile, perhaps brands that carry such content won’t get so much pushback.