The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has issued fresh guidelines for brands working with influencers, urging both parties to protect consumers before they engage with content that is sponsored.
The new guidance is focused around affiliate deals – where bloggers, vloggers and Instagram stars are rewarded financially for clicks placed within or underneath their content.
CAP has warned that followers should be made aware that what they are about to watch or click on is an ad, and as such said brands and talent should be in the know about the different "technical quirks" associated with different social media plaforms.
The key points include advice to signpost wholly affliated content. So for example, branded videos or sponsored blog posts should include an 'ad' warning in the title to ensure users are aware of their commercial nature before pressing play or scrolling down to read.
Where only some of the links in a post, picture or video are for affliated products the whole post doesn't have to be identified as an ad, but each of the links listed should be badged as such.
The final key guideline says influencers should be aware that every platform is different and recognise at which opportunity they should identify something as a paid-for endorsement. On apps like Instagram where images are initially visible before text then the word 'ad' could be included on the actual photo so the nature of the content is clear to followers.
"This new guidance helps affiliates and brands understand the importance of being upfront and clear with consumers, so people are not confused or misled and understand better when they’re viewing advertising rather than editorial content," said director of the Committee of Advertising Practice, Shahriar Coupal.
Last year, ISBA launched a template contract for advertisers to use when working with influencers in a bid to raise standards in the space. In the past, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has warned marketers that it would take a tough approach to social media campaigns that mislead consumers.
Commenting on the new CAP guidelines chief executive of influencer network Buzzoole, Fabrizio Perrone, said: "Right now any influencer worth their salt already abides by the rules around disclosure. Brands and influencers alike recognise the importance of transparency; when content is sponsored they don’t hide the fact that it’s an ad. It’s simple: consumers deserve to know when they’re being advertised to."
He said that although the new guidelines weren't "massively different" from CAP's previous advice that the group had made it clear there was no room for a blanket approach to disclosure.
"Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube are all different beasts – so it’s crucial to work with their idiosyncrasies," he continued. "A platform’s “quirks” are no excuse for a lack of disclosure. As new platforms continue to emerge, and the old ones mutate, there will always be loopholes to exploit. But ultimately, those who are committed to honesty and transparency will retain the authenticity that followers respond to."