Influencers Social Influencers Australia

Australian brands face scrutiny as watchdog swoops on social influencers


By Danielle Long, Acting APAC Editor

January 30, 2023 | 5 min read

Advertisers, marketers, brands, and social media platforms to face scrutiny as Australia’s competition watchdog investigates advertising misconduct by social media influencers.

The Good Marketer on the prowess of social media and how marketers can utilise it more efficiently.

Australia's competition watchdog is cracking down on social media influencers

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has launched a sweep to identify misleading testimonials and endorsements by more than 100 social media influencers.

The watchdog will investigate the influencers as well as reviewing a range of social media platforms, including Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook and Twitch.

The ACCC is also considering the role of other parties, such as advertisers, marketers, brands, and social media platforms, in facilitating misconduct.

The sweep will target sectors where influencer marketing is widespread, including fashion, beauty and cosmetics, food and beverage, travel, health fitness and wellbeing, parenting, gaming and technology.

ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said, “With more Australians choosing to shop online, consumers often rely on reviews and testimonials when making purchases, but misleading endorsements can be very harmful.

“It is important social media influencers are clear if there are any commercial motivations behind their posts. This includes those posts that are incentivised and presented as impartial but are not. The ACCC will not hesitate to take action where we see consumers are at risk of being misled or deceived by a testimonial, and there is potential for significant harm.

"This action may include following up misconduct with compliance, education and potential enforcement activities as appropriate.”

The ACCC said that while many consumers know that influencers receive financial payments and incentives for promoting products and services, disclosing these relationships is not always evident.

"The ACCC remains concerned that influencers, advertisers and brands try to hide this fact from consumers, which prevents them from making informed choices. This can particularly apply to micro-influencers with smaller followings, as they can build and maintain a more seemingly authentic relationship with followers to add legitimacy to hidden advertising posts," according to a statement from the organisation.

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The ACCC sweep will monitor a mix of large and small influencers and has received more than 150 tip-offs from the public.

“The number of tip-offs reflects the community concern about the ever-increasing number of manipulative marketing techniques on social media, designed to exploit or pressure consumers into purchasing goods or services.

“Already, we are hearing some law firms and industry bodies have informed their clients about the ACCC’s sweep, and reminded them of their advertising disclosure requirements,” said Cass-Gottlieb.

The crackdown is part of the competition watchdog's push to identify deceptive marketing practices across the digital economy. It comes ahead of its interim report into Australia's Digital Platform Services, which is due to be released in March.

The report will include the watchdog's findings and recommendations on social media services, including influencer advertising practices and sponsored posts.

It follows moves by advertising bodies around the world to promote greater transparency across social media platforms.

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