Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)
Where: United Kingdom
When: 18 March 2021
Law stated as at: 29 April 2021
In September 2020, the ASA monitored the social media accounts of 122 influencers that it had previously contacted for a period of three weeks. The exercise reviewed over 24,000 posts on a social media platform and found that 25% of those posts were advertising but only 35% of those were clearly labelled and obviously identifiable as such.
- In particular, the ASA found that:The ad labels used were often not easy to see or read as influencers posted the content using a small font or font colour that was similar to the background of the post.
- Where an advertisement was made over a series of posts and/or in different posting formats on a social media platform, the ad disclosure was not consistently applied across these posts.
- Affiliate content was often not appropriately labelled as ads and that ‘#affiliate’ or ‘#aff’ were unlikely to be sufficient.
- Influencers were also not labelling their own ads appropriately and relying on their bios or past posts for consumers to understand that the product was connected to them. This is not compliant.
The ASA has written to all influencers that were monitored and the main brands that partnered with those influencers. The ASA added that brands are equally responsible for failing to adequately disclose advertising content. The influencers have been asked to provide assurance of future compliance. The ASA has warned that it will continue to monitor influencer behaviours and any future non-compliance will be subject to enforcement action.
Why this matters:
Over the past few years, the ASA has used significant time and resource to help influencers understand the advertising rules and the importance of labelling posts correct. For example, the ASA teamed up with Love Island to issue some influencer-friendly guidance to help the contestants comply with the rules when leaving the show. However, these efforts and past direct engagement with influencers has appeared to be ineffective; as such, the ASA has issued a warning to influencers.
Brands should also pay attention to this issue as the ASA deems brands also responsible for non-compliance. As such, brands should consider requiring influencers to be contractually required to place appropriate labelling on their posts and consider approval posts before publication.