To bring transparency on social media, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has released draft guidelines for “influencer advertising” on digital media. ASCI noted that influencer advertising has become mainstream. “So, much of what influencers post is promotional and a lot of it is not identified as such. Such non-disclosure is a disservice to consumers and is misleading.
As per the new guidelines, all influencers will have to disclose if a certain creative post, video or written content is an advertisement or not. Also, if there are product placements, the same needs to be clearly mentioned with a pre-approved disclosure label. Also, they cannot tweak the disclosure label and will have to adhere to only permitted labels. This rule is applicable for all social media platforms including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, blogs and other video platforms. Almost all forms of paid content, advertisements online must be highlighted clearly so that the audience can clearly understand that it’s a sponsored content.
ASCI also noted that influencers can’t get away with adjectives like “fastest speed”, “best in class”, etc. “The influencer must do their due diligence about any technical or performance claims made by them such as 2X better, effect lasts for 1 month, fastest speed, best in class etc. Evidence of due diligence would include correspondence with the advertiser or brand owner confirming that the specific claim made in the advertisement is capable of scientific substantiation,” ASCI said in a media statement.
The guidelines for influencers advertising on digital media will be available for all stakeholders, including industry, digital influencers as well as consumers for feedback till March 8, 2021. Based on the feedback and inputs, the final guidelines will be issued by ASCI by 31 March, 2021.
Once finalised the guidelines will be applicable to all promotional posts published on or after 15 April 2021. “The digital space is vast. However, promotional content is often indistinguishable from regular posts. Consumers have the right to easily recognise promotional content. The guidelines will help consumers identify promotional content,” said Subhash Kamath, Chairman, ASCI.
As for videos, the new guidelines makes it clear that in the case of video not accompanied by a text post, the disclosure label should be superimposed on the video in a manner that is easily visible to the viewer.
“For videos that last 15 seconds or lesser,the disclosure label must stay for a minimum of 2 seconds. For videos longer than 15 seconds, but less than 2 minutes, the disclosure label stays for 1/3rd the length of the video. For videos which are 2 minutes or longer, the disclosure label must stay for the entire duration of the section in which the promoted brand or its features, benefits, etc are mentioned.
For live streams, the disclosure label should be placed periodically, for 5 seconds at the end of every minute so that users who see part of the stream can see the disclosure, added ASCI.
ASCI also released a ready reckoner for influencers for different platforms.
-Instagram: Disclosure label to be included in the title above the photo/beginning of the text that
shows. If only the image is seen, the image itself must include the label
-Facebook: Include the disclosure label in the title of the entry or post. If only the image/video is
seen, the image/video itself must include the label eg FB story
-Twitter: Include the disclosure label or tag at the beginning of the body of the message as a tag
-Pinterest: Include the disclosure label at the beginning of the message.
-YouTube and other video platforms: Include the label in the title / description of the post.
-Vlog: Overlay the disclosure label while talking about the product or service
-Snapchat: Include the disclosure label in the body of the message in the beginning as a tag.
-Blog: Include the disclosure label in the title of the post.