Recently I had the pleasure of talking at an Influencer Marketing Breakfast Briefing with the Advertising Standards Authority thanks to Promo Veritas. The hot topic was how to use Ad if a brand has any form of control over a blogger or influencers content. It was surprising how the majority of both brands and influencers are actually doing it wrong. But saying that, influencer marketing is a technique that has only just evolved alongside the rise of social media such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so it is all new. I never would have thought that I could make a living from blogging and social media when I started over five years ago. But it’s clear that we all must be legal, decent, honest and truthful. For me as with all posts, I only feature brands which I’m truly passionate about, and will give my 100% honest opinion regardless of whether I’ve received a product for free or not. Any commercial activity has always been disclosed but now I can confirm how to use Ad when creating content.
So firstly how to use Ad when a brand has control over your content is key, this includes a payment, free gift, or other perks, the post then becomes an Ad. If the commercial intent isn’t clear from the overall context of communication, it should be labelled as an Ad so not to break the ASA’s rules. Also if a brand asks to use even a hashtag on an Instagram post this should be labeled, Ad, as the brand has had a form of control over the content. I’d previously thought Ad was only used for paid content, but that’s not so, it does include gifts, perks and any form of control over the content.
You must use labels as Ad, advert or advertisement and this must be clearly placed and easily seen by all. If it is an Ad, don’t use the label sponsored or #sp – I see so much of this on Instagram! Oh and whilst we are on the subject of Instagram, the Ad doesn’t have to be hashtagged but must be added to the text. Also, the new ‘paid partnership’ feature has been set up by Instagram and isn’t a request from ASA. In regard to blogging the same applies. You would have noticed that this is one change that I’ve recently made on New Life Social, my disclaimer will always be clear, noticeable, and never hidden.
Who takes responsibility?
Under the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing, the brands (the advertiser) has primary responsibility for complying with the rules as do you the publisher. If in doubt, you can contact CAP for help in staying the right side of the line.
I hope by sharing what I’ve learnt this week helps with any blurred lines on exactly how to be using Ad the correct way, please feel free to comment should you have any questions to these guidelines?