ASA’s new rules for influencer marketing

October 18, 2018

A couple of years ago, influencer marketing was a very new term just making its way into our lives. Now it is one of the most useful marketing tools out there for businesses, and more and more are getting on board. But because it is such a new and emerging area, the rules about what can and can’t be said have very much been in a grey area, but more is being done to bring clarity.

Here in the UK, influencer marketing is overseen by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), and one problem they are working hard to tackle is the disclosure of when content is sponsored. Or more specifically, the non-disclosure of sponsored content.

Sponsored content is defined as when a blogger, vlogger or other kind of social media influencer is paid or compensated by a company in order to advertise their product or service in their content. This could be a standard written blog post, a YouTube video or even an Instagram photo.

Believe it or not, the biggest social media influencers out there – the ones with millions of followers – can actually be made upwards of hundreds of thousands of pounds just for a single mention on social media. Now that’s a job we wouldn’t mind.

But as this world has grown, so has ASA’s interest. As a result, they are starting to look more closely than ever at complaints received from consumers, and are no longer afraid to hand out warnings, fines and rulings to those that stray across the lines.

However, ASA has also been criticised for producing strong rules and guidelines that are simply too complicated to understand, and therefore follow.

Thankfully, things are about to get a little bit easier. If you’re a blogger, vlogger or social media influencer, that is. ASA has actually responded to people’s concerns and produced a full Influencer’s Guide which, at just 10 or so pages long, does an incredible job at keeping things simple and concise with easy to follow language.

If you fall into the category of blogger, vlogger or indeed any kind of content producer, then go ahead and familiarise yourself with these new guidelines. Here we’re going to explore a couple of points raised in the guide that we just hadn’t considered before…

  • You must now declare when you are advertising your own products. While it’s mainly those with larger followings that produce and sell their own products, smaller influencers or bloggers with a side business must now follow this rule.
  • Affiliate links now also have to be declared in the same way as ads. A common way to do this is to simply state something along the lines of ‘This is an affiliate link’, or #aff or #affiliate.
  • What exactly constitutes an ad has been fully determined by two ‘tests’: 1) If the influencer has received any form of payment from a brand which includes money, products or experience AND 2) if the brand has any level of control over the content.
  • ‘Control’ was also very carefully defined as including key messaging such as hashtags, the direction of the content, requirements for posting such as timing, and requests for amendments.
  • Hashtags that show a piece of content is sponsored or declarations must not be buried within messaging. ASA has made it crystal clear that advertising statements must be easily visible by audiences and viewers.

Of course, the ASA guidelines themselves go into much more detail – we’re just skimming over some of the most interesting points – but it’s good to finally see some much-needed clarity on this growing area.

Need some help with your influencer marketing? We can help. Get in touch with our expert and friendly team today for campaigns and ideas that not only follow the rules, but get you the results you need.