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Social media influencers will now have to add labels for paid content, new guidelines out

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has unveiled the final guidelines for influencers advertising on digital media, set to come into effect from June 14, 2021.

Story highlights
  • ASCI new guidelines mandate that social media influencers add a disclosure label to clarify that their post includes paid promotion.
  • The draft guidelines were issued back in February 2021 and sought feedback from various stakeholders.
  • According to ASCI, consumers do not face any such confusion when interacting with content in newspapers or on television.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has released new guidelines for social media influencers who upload content on various social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. According to the new guidelines, influencers will now have to add a disclosure label to clarify if a post includes paid advertisements.

Set to come into effect from June 14, 2021, these guidelines ask influencers to put such disclosure at a place where an average consumer cannot miss it. ASCI Chairman Subhash Kamath said that when people watch television or read newspapers, then they can easily distinguish between the program or content and the advertisement. They do not face any kind of confusion, but it is difficult to differentiate in social media.

According to the new guidelines, if sponsored content is a video, the disclosure label must stay in the video for a minimum of 3 seconds. For videos longer than 2 minutes, the disclosure label must stay for the entire duration of the section where a product is being promoted. For audio posts, the disclosure must be clearly announced at the beginning and at the end.

ASCI has also launched ASCI.social, a digital domain that will house information regarding the guidelines and a community of influencers, marketers, agencies, and consumers.

ASCI also urges influencers to first review the product and services before promoting them to their followers. There must also not be any fake claim about the product in the sponsored content.

The draft guidelines were initially issued back in February, and feedback was sought from all concerned stakeholders; advertisers, agencies, influencers, and consumers. According to experts, as digital media consumption grows and becomes the norm, the distinction between content and promotional advertisements becomes critical.

The marketing landscape is transforming, and influencer marketing has become mainstream. Therefore, consumers have a right to know what content has been paid for by brands, and the guidelines intend to bring this transparency to influencer marketing.

Subhash Kamath, Chairman, ASCI, announcing the guidelines, said: "We received an overwhelming positive engagement and feedback from influencers and others for the draft guidelines, as well as suggestions to finetune and clarify some points. After extensive discussions, we are now launching the final guidelines that balance the interests of consumer, influencers, agencies, advertisers and all other stakeholders. I urge everyone to follow the ASCI Code and the guidelines and be part of this change promising transparency and responsibility."