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Here's the suss on the British influencer drama over new super strict guidelines on #sponcon

The Advertising Standards Authority is clamping down on opaque brand deals.

IF YOU FOLLOW any British influencers, you might have noticed a difference in how they’re captioning their Instagram posts.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK is cracking down on influencers and their opaque brand deals, following a probe into influencer marketing rules last year. 

George Lusty, the Committee of Advertising Practice’s senior director for consumer protection, said: “If celebrities or influencers are posting about a product on social media, they must make it clear if they’ve been paid to promote it, or have been gifted, loaned a product or thanked in some other way by a brand.

No one should be left thinking that a Tweet or Instagram post is just the person’s opinion when it’s not.”

Guy Parker, the watchdog’s chief executive said at the time: “People shouldn’t have to play the detective to work out if they’re being advertised to. That means the status of a tweet, blog, vlog, Instagram post or story should be clear.”

image_from_ios A caption on a recent post by influencer Emma Hill

What does this actually mean?

  1. Any content you see from an influencer which includes a gifted item from one or multiple brands (tagged or not tagged) must be marked as AD (or ADVERT, but only one of those 2 terms) and it must be right at the start of the post (across any and all channels; blog, Instagram, Youtube etc etc).
  2. If an influencer has bought an item themselves but has previously worked with that brand on either a paid or gifting basis or been to one of their events, it must also be marked as AD and the relationship they have with the brand must be explained in the caption/description box/text.
  3. Any use of affiliate links anywhere must be marked as AD whether an item has been bought with their own money, gifted or loaned, etc.

How does it compare to Ireland’s rules then?

Great question, I’m glad you asked! In Ireland, content considered to be advertising/marketing communication when an advertiser makes a payment – directly or in kind – to the reviewer/blogger, as well as when the advertiser has control over the content that is created.

For example, say your favourite Insta hun has been approached by a fashion label to promote a new line they’re launching with a post. If the hun is paid and told what to write in her caption, this is an #ad and should be disclosed as so.

When it comes to freebies, it gets a little bit more complicated. When influencers are sent free stuff from PR companies with the hope of review, they’re under no obligation to disclose this. Press trips, where the person is not being told what or how much to post, also do not have to be disclosed.

However, if a blogger goes on a press trip on the basis that certain content will be created and/or is shared, disclosure is required. 

You can read more of the Advertising Standards Authority Ireland’s (ASAI) FAQs by clicking here.

Some people on social media are welcoming the changes, saying that it brings new transparency to the industry. However, others are arguing against some of the strict new guidelines.

A handful of Irish influencers have spoken out against the constant use of #sponsored even when an influencer is no longer being paid, deeming it unneccessary.

There’s also an argument that the majority of freebies posted by influencers are fairly obvious to the consumer form the outset.

Speaking to the DailyEdge.ie, Jen Morris, known by her online moniker of TooDollyMakeup called the new regulations “a witch hunt” against online influencers.

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A post shared by J E N M O R R I S (@toodollymakeup) on

“I think people really really really want to catch people out on anything these days,” she said. “Adding #Freebie actually further undermines the integrity of a person who is doing this for a living.

No matter how trust-worthy you are, the minute people see AD they don’t engage. In Ireland, people believe you just do ads willy nilly to turn a quick buck when that simply isn’t the case. You don’t see that mentality anywhere else really.”

If it’s brought in over here, Jen reckons it will cause further distrust among content consumers.

“If you have to start putting #Freebie, people will get their back up because they will think you are rubbing it in their faces but also talking out of your arse because they you got it for free.”

I am lucky that I have seen all sides of the industry. If people knew the amount of stuff that is actually paid for that isn’t really declared on TV and magazines, it would blow their minds.”
Until there’s regulations for media across the board, this is simply a witch hunt.”

On Twitter, Orla McConnon, who posts beauty content on her Instagram page ‘TheOrlacle’, said: “Totally get why the UK bloggers have to now say if a product was paid for, gifted or an ad, but it is painful to read.

From a user point of view it just makes me want to scroll scroll scroll. Hoping I get used to it so it doesn’t ruin following some of my faves.”
Speaking to DailyEdge.ie, she reiterated the need for transparency within influencing but said the new regulations are “overkill” from a consumer point of view.

“I completely understand why the UK bloggers have t state whether something was paid for, but I don’t know if I agree with having to state #AD for a company that you worked with in the past. 

By bloggers having to #ad when they mention brands they previously worked with, it means the majority of posts have now become #ADs and makes the content look less organic.”

Sue Jordan, who blogs under the pseudonym Cherry Sue, agreed that the new regulations will affect viewership of influencers’ content.

“People are averse to advertising, always, even if it’s indicating a three year old relationship,” she said. “I’d very much like to see the same requirements put to print media so that journos decalre relationships, bribey trips and ad space in the same edition as ‘unbiased reviews and/or copious gifting.

“Furthermore, I’ll be stone cold in the ground before I ever tag or ever expect another content creator to use the hashtag #Freebie. It’s not free. It’s never, ever free. I’ll always champion transparency, but rules and sanctions should be across the board.

Other mediums and brands get off scott free in my honest opinion.”

DailyEdge is on Instagram!

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