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Social media influencers may soon have guidelines for disclosure of promotional ad content

As per the proposed draft, influencers will be required to add ‘disclosure labels’ which are “clearly visible, upfront and prominent” on advertising content – ideally placed within the first two lines on any platform

February 22, 2021 / 02:51 PM IST
The draft guidelines propose a list of approved labels such as #sponsored #partnership #promo #collab and #ad which can be added to posts (Image: Shutterstock)

The draft guidelines propose a list of approved labels such as #sponsored #partnership #promo #collab and #ad which can be added to posts (Image: Shutterstock)


Social media influencers may have stipulated rules to follow in regards to proper disclosure of partnerships with brands for promotional posts by March-end.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) is working on draft guidelines for influencer advertising on digital platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Twitter. It may be finalised by March-end after completion of public consultations, the Hindu BusinessLine reported.

The step comes as “lines between content and advertising have increasingly started to blur in the digital world,” ASCI Chairman Subhash Kamath told the paper. He added: “We believe these guidelines will not only help consumers to identify promotional content but also guide social media influencers to become more responsible when promoting brands.”

He added that these draft guidelines were formulated after consultations with influencers, pointing out that ASCI collaborated with BigBang.Social for feedback.

As per the proposed draft, influencers will be required to add ‘disclosure labels’ which are “clearly visible, upfront and prominent” on advertising content – ideally placed within the first two lines on any platform, the report said.

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It states that ads must be “obviously distinguishable by the average consumer from editorial and independent user-generated content to prevent confusion between the two.” It has also proposed a list of approved labels such as #sponsored #partnership #promo #collab and #ad which can be added to posts.

Accountability will also include ensuring reasonable application of app filters so that these are “not used to exaggerate the claims of brands' ads” and ensuring that “any technical or performance claims made by brands are well-substantiated.”

Other stipulations include time period for visibility of disclosure tags — i) depending on type of post – video, text, audios, livestream, etc. and ii) depending on the platform of posting – e.g. YouTube, Instagram or Facebook.

The draft also clarified that blanket disclosures in influencers’ bio or account description sections will not be adequate, and each post must contain the disclosure in English or the language of the ad.

“It is recommended that the contractual agreement between advertiser and influencer carries clauses pertaining to disclosure, use of filters as well as due diligence,” the draft states.
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