Influencers must disclose when content is paid for says Advertising Regulatory Board

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Whether you like it or not, influencers are a part of the marketing ecosystem and a recent ruling by the Advertising Regulatory Board may help to bring influencers in-line with other advertising channels.

Late last month the ARB issued a response to a complaint that was brought before it regarding an Instagram influencer.

The complaint centred around local influencer Kandy Kane Makeup and material that looked very much like advertising for Volvo but wasn’t marked as such.

“The Advertiser (Volvo) responded and submitted that its partnership agreement with Kandy Kane is mainly a form of trade exchange which has no financial investment. It does not give any of the influencers it partners with financial investment but rather a form of trade exchange for them to drive the cars for a duration and they get to share their experience with the cars on their social media platforms,” the ARB wrote.

This could be considered a loophole as because there is no exchange of money, declaring it as advertising could be tricky, except it isn’t. At least according to the ARB.

“To ensure full transparency publishers and influencers are required to disclose if they were provided (permanently or on loan) with goods or services in return for media coverage (whether this is expressly stated or not). This helps reinforce publisher or influencer integrity while clearly allowing the consumer to make an informed opinion of the applicable content, product or service,” the ARB said.

“In other words, influencers are expected to disclose their relationship whether it is money or goods that has been exchanged.”

The board says that influencers and marketers should make use of clear social media identifiers to relay the message that content is sponsored. Recognised identifiers are:

  • #AD
  • #Advertisement
  • #Sponsored

As Volvo had the foresight to amend the content to mark it as advertising the ARB believes the complaint has been addressed.

That having been said, the board had some advice for anybody advertising, influencer or otherwise.

“The main objective of the Advertising Regulatory Board is to protect consumers from advertising that contravenes the Code of Advertising Practice. In the vast majority of instances where advertising is found to contravene the Code, the ARB will require the advertising to be withdrawn or amended,” the board said.

As such it’s probably a good idea to err on the side of caution and make sure that when a company wants to use your clout to reach a particular audience, that you ensure they are aware you might need to mark content as advertising.

You can read the ARB’s ruling on this matter in full at this link (PDF).

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.