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IMTB response to written evidence provided by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport 

 August 13, 2021

The IMTB has responded to written evidence provided by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport as part of Parliament's inquiry into ‘influencer culture.’

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The Influencer Marketing Trade Body ("IMTB") has written to the UK Parliament's inquiry into influencer culture in response to written evidence provided to the select committee by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport ("DCMS").


Complaints against influencers are falling, not rising

Paragraph 12 of the written evidence provided by the DCMS to the Select Committee inquiry into Influencer Culture refers to increased numbers of complaints made to the Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) in relation to influencers. However, the most recent ASA annual report - published 29 April 2021 - notes that "complaints about influencer posts decreased by 8%" and the number of resulting claims from those complaints decreased by 9% compared with the previous year.

The IMTB asks for the DCMS’ evidence to be corrected to reflect that ASA data shows both the number of influencer-related complaints and claims fell last year compared with the previous year. 


No randomised or anonymised data set

Paragraph 12 of the DCMS written evidence continues: "In 2020, the ASA has analysed over 24,000 individual pieces of content on Instagram across 122 UK-based influencers. The results highlighted a disappointing overall rate of compliance with existing advertising rules on making sufficiently clear when they were being paid to promote a product or service."

The IMTB believes this section may leave the reader with the incorrect understanding that the sample-set of influencers was randomised and anonymised; a representative sample set of the influencer landscape in the UK. This is not the case. The ASA explains within its latest annual report: "The influencers we monitored had already been given ad labelling advice, either directly as part of the ASA resolving a complaint, or as part of our proactive advice work."

The IMTB requests that the DCMS corrects its written evidence to avoid ambiguity. 


Background to inquiry into influencer culture

In March 2021 the UK Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee announced it would be conducting an inquiry into ‘influencer culture’.

The inquiry will examine the power of influencers on social media, how influencer culture operates, and will consider the absence of regulation on the promotion of products or services, aside from the existing policies of individual platforms.

It will also assess influencer impact when it comes to media and popular culture as well as the positive role they can play, such as raising awareness for a campaign addressing vaccine hesitancy among people from ethnic minority backgrounds.

The DCMS Committee issued a call for written evidence as part of this inquiry and the IMTB has submitted a response to this call. 


About the Influencer Marketing Trade Body

The Influencer Marketing Trade Body is the professional membership organisation for influencer marketing agencies and influencer marketing platforms. The IMTB is dedicated to building a robust, sustainable future for the influencer marketing industry through increased accountability, governance and a unified voice.

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