Insights Committee of Advertising Practice publishes further guidance on labelling advertorials on social media.


Advertising rules require that all ads are obviously identifiable as such.  CAP says that the ASA has received increasing numbers of complaints about social media content that features advertising, but is not obviously identifiable as an ad.  Although there has been a big improvement in the labelling of advertorial content, CAP is concerned that there may be misunderstanding about which labels are appropriate.  It has therefore published brief guidance on appropriate labelling and to explain the difference between “sponsored” and “ad” when it comes to advertorials.

An “advertorial”, CAP explains, is a piece of content in editorial space which is paid for by a brand and over which they exercise some degree of editorial control.  “Sponsorship”, on the other hand, only has the “payment” element and leaves editorial control entirely with the creator; these are not ads for the purposes of the CAP Code.

CAP stresses that the onus is on the publisher/influencer just as much as the brand to ensure that advertorial content is appropriately labelled.  Advertisers first need to consider which ads need to be labelled; a vlog on a brand’s own social media channel is less likely to need a label as it will be clear from the context that it is an ad.  Suitable labels, which should be clear to the consumer before they engage with the ad, include, for example, “ad” and “advertisement feature”.  Labels like “sp”, “spon” and “sponsored post”, on the other hand, are likely to mislead because they suggest that the brand had no editorial control and that the content is therefore primarily independent.  Ambiguous statements like “brought to you by”, “in partnership with” and “thanks to our friends at…” should also be avoided.  To read the CAP guidance “Is your ad ‘obviously identifiable?’ Here’s why ‘Spon’ is not ‘ad’“ click here.  To read CAP’s additional guidance “Four essential questions to ask about video blogs” click here.