The Influencer Marketing Trade Body (IMTB) welcomes guidance published today by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) covering content creator and advertiser requirements relating to paid-for online endorsement. Though, IMTB warns of potential unintended consequences linked to CMA’s guidance to social media platforms.
Everyone involved in creating content and posting this on social media must take responsibility to ensure all ads are labelled correctly - be they advertisers, social media platforms or influencers.
The success of influencer marketing relies on a foundation of authenticity and transparency. Failing to clearly label paid-for endorsements or gifts is effectively attempting to hoodwink the consumer. This erodes trust in both the creator and the sponsoring brand. It may also diminish the effectiveness of influencer marketing as a marketing channel.
As progressive practitioners within the influencer marketing industry our members already ensure their campaigns follow rules and regulations closely.
The CMA’s new guidance is a response to Parliament’s Influencer Culture report. The IMTB was cited three times within that report. Additionally, the Government referenced our code of conduct in its formal response to that report.
IMTB members commit to “adhere to legal and regulatory frameworks and codes” or risk termination of membership. This is one of six guiding principles enshrined within our code of conduct.
To safeguard compliance, our members benefit from access to REASSURE our regulatory advice service. This ensures that all members’ influencer campaigns meet the highest regulatory standards. Additionally, our website carries an ASA overview and links to relevant guidance adding a further regulatory resource.
Social media platforms
The IMTB welcomes elements of the CMA’s guidance regarding social media platforms. Notably, these platforms should ensure that both content creators (principle 1) and brands (principle 5) are aware that hidden advertising is not allowed on their service and that creators and brands could face consequences for breaking this rule.
Regulators, however, should not rely on social media platforms to enforce arrangements between advertiser and content creator (principle 6). These platforms serve as both distributor of influencer content and competitor to advertiser and influencer commercial partnerships. Leaving enforcement to social media platforms hands over jurisdiction to private entities and may result in perverse outcomes of unintended consequences.
Additionally, principle 3 states that social media platforms should take appropriate, proportionate, proactive steps and use available technology to prevent hidden advertising from appearing on their site. This principle may create false flags. A creator may tag a brand into his or her content solely as a helpful reference to social media users rather than to signify a commercial arrangement with that brand.
Furthermore, principle 2 of the CMA guidance recommends social media platforms “offer a tool that easily enables content creators to use one click to label their content as advertising. This functionality should identify advertising consistently across your platform in a way which complies with the law and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)’s CAP Code.” The guidance does not state whether #AD should additionally be used alongside the tool or whether a tool was a sufficient signifier.
For more information on the CMA’s work to improve transparency of paid-for endorsements on social media platforms, visit the case page including the CMA’s guides.