The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)/Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), have this month issued an updated ‘Cheat Sheet’ on the rules of social media advertising as part of a partnership with ITV.
Love it or hate it, Love Island is a huge marketing success story. Battling it out with the Euro 2020 coverage, ITV’s Love Island achieved a peak of 2.8 million viewers at its Season 7 premiere on 28 June this year. (According to BARB figures).
The popularity of the show has led to many commercial brands partnering with contestants to provide an effective way of directly reaching target audiences on social media. The ‘Cheat Sheet’ is aimed at underlining the responsibility of influencers and celebrities, both to their followers and the brands they are promoting.
It comes as the ASA toughens up its stance on individual influencers who are not following the advertising rules, potentially misleading the public. Their Influencer Monitoring Report published in March showed that less influencers were actually keeping to the rules than expected, revealing inconsistent disclosure of ads through Stories, posts and Reels on Instagram. Consequently, there is now a dedicated page on the ASA website listing those who are not following the advertising rules by failing to disclose their posts as ads.
This is a lesson to be learnt for all brands when it comes to influencers and Instagram. Social media advertorial content can be difficult to distinguish from editorial or organic content, and marketers and brands should pay attention that their communications are easily identifiable as such.
Section 2 of the CAP code offers guidance and outlines the rules. Basically, when a consumer sees an ad, it should be obvious that they are doing so. Unlike organic posts on a brands’ own social media feeds, it isn’t clear on an influencer’s feed if they are expressing an independent opinion or if they have received payment of some form from the brand.
So as a minimum the ASA will expect the inclusion of an ‘ad’ label at the beginning, or early on in the post. Any label needs to be clearly visible and understood by the audience and not buried in the post or abbreviated. It is the joint responsibility of both the brand and the influencer to ensure the ads are identifiable as such.
Here are a couple of ad label examples, one sponsored content and the second with the brand in the post copy.
Instagram is becoming increasingly important as a marketing tool amongst certain audiences and should not be overlooked in the arsenal of marketing tools. Just be aware however that there are guidelines as with any other form of advertising.