New disclosure rules could restrict influencer style from today

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The Advertising Standards Council of India (Asci) will analyze digital content to ensure such disclosure, as well as prominent labeling of promotional content, avoidance of filters on paid content and appropriate due diligence regarding products or services. promoted by influencers, according to guidelines. .

Asci has partnered with French technology provider Reech to actively monitor social media platforms for defaulters, using artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze digital content. “You can’t monitor the entire Internet 100% of the time. We plan to deploy this technology to analyze different platforms, influencers and categories from time to time, ”said Asci General Secretary Manisha Kapoor.

In the event of a complaint, the advertiser may ask the influencer to remove or edit an ad or change the disclosure label to comply with ASCI code and guidelines. Influencer-related complaints will be part of Asci’s monthly consumer complaints report, where it discloses details of the misleading advertising complaints it receives.

“Our goal is to educate people and make influencer marketing a responsible industry. We are not a penalizing body but the defaulters will be invited to withdraw the announcements or to make a correction. We are ready to take the path of education and constant dialogue and clarification of doubts, while these rules are implemented, ”said Kapoor.

Digital marketing agency AdLift estimates India’s influencer market at $ 75-150 million per year, compared to $ 1.75 billion for the global market.

The influencer marketing space in India is growing rapidly but is still young compared to mature global markets such as Ireland and Italy, where influencer marketing guidelines were put in place as early as 2016. The Federal Trade Commission in the United States and the Competition and Markets Authority in the United Kingdom have also published guidelines for social media influencers.

Unlike ads on traditional platforms such as TV or print media, influencer promotions often come as content as part of a larger story and subtly seeded into videos or photos without any disclosure, this which gives the whole a rather organic aspect. This has benefited brands immensely as their sales have skyrocketed with millions of users believing their favorite influencer is actually using a particular product.

The lack of disclosure or labeling has worked pretty well for brands, said Devanshi Sodhani and Aditi Kanakia, founding partners, Abridge Entertainment Ventures, an influencer and content marketing agency that manages clients like PepsiCo, Hometown. and Mitsubishi Electric. Therefore, Kanakia encourages influencers and content creators to be more subtle and organic when posting branded content. “The disclosures will certainly have a moderating effect. Brands and influencers need to be prepared for this. However, at the end of the day, it’s good content that will always work, ”Kanakia said.

Direct advertising and direct influencer call-to-action messages are often less successful, especially when there is a paid partnership label. With disclosure becoming mandatory, influencer marketing will suffer slightly at first. However, once this effect has passed, we see that the impact will be positive for brands, ”Sodhani said.

Requests not to label a post as promotional also differ from company to company, said Neel Gogia, co-founder of IPLIX Media, an influencer marketing and talent management agency. “Small, local businesses are often opposed to such disclosures because they look at high sales conversions through influencer marketing. However, global brands that use influencers for brand awareness and building tend to follow global rules and ethical practices, ”Gogia said.

The beauty company L’Oréal launched two years ago its own “Influencer Value Charter” in which it declares that it does not work with influencers who use artificial means to inflate the number of subscribers or who have fewer 16 years old. He also points out that influencers are required to disclose their paid partnership with the company on promotional messages.

“L’Oréal welcomes the Asci guidelines for influencers and fully supports them … Because we respect consumers and want to continue to earn their trust, transparency and integrity, we are committed to developing relationships transparent, respectful and professional with influencers and, indirectly, with their respective audiences, ”said a spokesperson for L’Oréal India.

Pureplay Skin Sciences, a direct-to-consumer beauty (D2C) startup, which owns beauty brands such as Plum, Phy and PlumBodylovin, recognizes that engagement levels are impacted when a post is flagged as paid engagement.

“While brands could initially achieve increased brand awareness by not forcing influencers to disclose the nature of partnerships, today’s digital content consumer is mature enough to be able to make a difference,” said Stuti Sethi, senior marketing director, Pureplay Skin Sciences. This is exactly why many brands today are called upon to not be honest with viewers. Brands must therefore decide whether they are aiming for short-term awareness or whether they are building a lasting and trustworthy brand, ”said Sethi.

It’s also up to the creator to make a paid engagement interesting and engaging, said Los Angeles-based Indian digital content creator Niharika NM. The 23-year-old influencer has over 1.7 million Instagram followers and over 600,000 YouTube subscribers.

“If you create sponsored content that aligns with the rest of your organic content, I don’t see why an audience wouldn’t engage with it. I created content for the Bumble dating app and this is one of the best performing Instagram reels on my profile, which is why I think even when sponsored if your content is compelling enough for your audience, you will always enjoy it. the same numbers as a piece of organic content, if not more, ”she said.

Niharika believes that disclosures only add to an influencer brand value because they are honest and transparent. “A lot of times when I upload sponsored content I get comments from my audience like ‘Secure the bag queen’ or ‘Get that corner girl’ which is very encouraging,” she said.

Disclosures help consumers be aware and make an informed decision, said Krishna Rao, Senior Category Manager, Parle Products. “I think it’s in the best interests of both the advertiser and the end consumer, and also in the best interests of the influencer,” he said.

About 10% of the packaged food company’s advertising budgets are spent on digital ads, with most of the advertising money going to television advertising. Cookie maker Parle-G has used influencers on and off. “We have used them in the past, but not at a very high level. We will continue our strategy of using influencers as needed, ”said Rao.

Mondelez, Diageo and Pepsico did not comment on the development.

Asci’s guidelines should also tighten the noose around the categories of brands that use influencers to promote products such as alcohol, which are banned from advertising on television or in print media. In the absence of digital advertising regulations, alcohol brands seem to have free rein on over-the-top (OTT) video streaming platforms, YouTube and Instagram.

Adding a label to a paid promotion could make the campaign appear inauthentic as opposed to more organic content, said Anand Virmani, co-founder and CEO of Nao Spirits and Beverages. “We don’t do too much collaboration with influencers anyway, but it brings more transparency to the end consumer because you know someone is being paid to promote your product,” he said. Nao Spirits and Beverages sells gin under the Hapusa and Plus brands.

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