HomeInsightsAdvertising Standards Authority publishes report on the labelling of influencer advertising

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The ASA says that the key finding of its report reveals that people struggle to identify when social media posts by influencers are ads. It also confirms that requiring influencers to use a prominent reference, such as #ad, is “necessary as a minimum”.

The ASA conducted a comprehensive review over 18 months, including research with the public and a broad look at existing academic literature, into how and what kinds of labels and other factors help people understand when social media posts by influencers are advertising.

The ASA concludes that where an influencer is posting about a brand because they’ve been paid to do so (either in money or “in kind” e.g. with free goods), the post must be obviously identifiable as an ad. Both the ASA and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recommend upfront disclosures, such as #ad.

The ASA also found that for an influencer post to be obviously identifiable, a label must first be noticed and then understood. It found that a visible and well understood disclosure, such as #ad, increased the likelihood of participants in the research identifying influencer adverts as “definitely an ad”.

While the research also indicated that other presentational factors may be important to ensure influencer ad posts are obviously identifiable as ads, the ASA says that its focus will be on ensuring influencers and brands are being upfront and clear with #ad. Influencers and brands that do not disclose ads run the risk of potential investigation and enforcement action.

The ASA will be hosting an influencer training event on 1 October with the CMA at which it will further explain when a post counts as an ad and how and when they should be labelled. To read the ASA’s press release in full and to access the report, click here.