HomeInsightsCommittees of Advertising Practice publish tips on making Instagram ads clear.


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As native advertising on social media platforms like Instagram continues to increase, CAP says that it is important that consumers know if something is an ad.  Accordingly, CAP has published some tips on how to make picture-perfect Instagram ads clearly identifiable to consumers.

Bloggers and marketers promoting a brand through a blog need to know whether their content is an advertorial and needs to be clearly identifiable as such.

If the content is an ad, it should be obviously identifiable to consumers.  This will depend on the context, for example, where Instagram posts are clearly on the brand’s own page and refer to their products it is likely that consumers will be aware that the content is an ad.  If it is an advertorial where the content is blended into the blogger’s usual style, bloggers are advised to include a clear and prominent label.  The ASA recently upheld a complaint about a Dylon advertorial on Buzzfeed’s website because it did not sufficiently distinguish editorial from advertorial content.

The ASA has also challenged whether an advertorial in the Telegraph that stated “In association with Michelin” was obviously identifiable as a marketing communication, and the complaint was upheld.  As a result, labels such as “sponsored”, “brought to you by” or similar are unlikely to be sufficient identifiers.  In the Oreo ruling, the vloggers stated: “Thanks to Oreo for making this video possible!”  However, the ASA felt that this alone did not make clear that the content was an advertorial.  The General Media Panel has suggested that labels such as “paid for ad” or “ad” are likely to be acceptable.

Similarly, with Instagram ads, the commercial nature of the ad should be immediately obvious.  The ASA recently upheld a complaint about a video post on Millie Mackintosh’s Instagram account on the basis that it was not clearly identifiable as an ad.  While it included “…More of my #BlendRecommends with @drinkj2o Spritz to come! #sp” in the text, it was held that this did not sufficiently indicate that the post was an ad as opposed to a sponsored post with the creator retaining editorial control.  For Instagram ads, CAP recommends using hashtags such as #ad for the avoidance of doubt.

In the case of video advertorials, CAP says that it is important to label it correctly and at the right time, depending on whether the video includes product placements, commercial breaks in editorial content, or if the whole thing is an advertorial.  In the Millie Mackintosh case, although the video ended with branded shot of the product, the ASA held that consumers needed to be aware that they were viewing an ad prior to engagement.

Even if an ad is obviously identifiable, CAP reminds readers not to forget to ensure that the content adheres to other rules in the CAP Code.  If a promotion is being run or a discount code is included, it is important to make sure that significant terms are clear to consumers.  To read CAP’s tips in full, click here.