To enable consumers to easily recognise promotional content on digital platforms, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has released draft guidelines for influencer advertising on digital media. (Disclosure labels mandatory, says ASCI guidelines for influencer advertising). The guidelines for influencers advertising on digital media is 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 31st March, 2021.
These guideline which were a collaborative effort with influencers will be applicable to all promotional posts published on or after 15th April 2021.
MediaBrief.com has taken the initiative to collate the thoughts and views by a panel of leaders who are experts in digital, marketing, advertisng and social media to know how ASCI’ guidelines would influence the influencer advertising ecosystem. Read on.
Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has released draft guidelines for influencer advertising on digital media, to enable consumers to easily recognise promotional content on digital platforms. The influencer industry is growing fast. According to digital marketing agency AdLift, India’s influencer market is estimated at $75-$150 million a year as compared to the global market of $1.75 billion.
This is an industry that has become mainstream within the advertising space and is only expected to grow as more and more Indians are going online. It’s no wonder that brands across sectors are associating with influencers to get across their marketing messages. 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.
With the guidelines, ASCI will assist consumers, brands and content creators to ensure all stakeholders’ interests are preserved through a self-regulatory approach. The digital space is huge and promotional content is often indistinguishable from regular posts. Consumers have the right to easily recognise promotional content.
These guidelines will help the consumers to identify promotional content and also guide digital influencers. These guidelines will benefit the consumers and the digital influencers.
Ankita Chauhan, Group Head Strategy, Tonic Worldwide
As the word opinion leader suggests, influencers are leading opinion and influencing purchase decisions, across categories. A lot of time the content is promoted as a part of the larger story and seeded in subtly, making the whole placement look rather organic.
However, consumers have full right to know what is paid and what is organic. It’s quite basic. I’ve observed several influencers labelling sponsored content and I think industry bodies making it a mandate only benefits the consumers at large.
Ashwini Deshpande, Co-founder & Director, Elephant Design
An influencer garners large follower base because of consistent & aligned content for the kind of audience he/ she is aiming for. If the influencers want to continue getting followed by their audience, it is necessary for them to stay interesting and honest.
Influencer marketing has reached a critical mass in India and it is the right time to have these clear guidelines from ASCI that protect consumers from being misled.
The draft guidelines by ASCI which are open for public discussion for the next few days has transparency at its core and should be welcomed by the advertising industry. The most important guideline on prominent labelling has been rightfully specified for each social media channel – will help the consumer from getting misguided by influencer advertisements.
The guidelines have ensured three prominent things:
• Any content where the brand has paid the influencer and has had reasonable control over the content needs to be called out as ‘advertisement’.
• Influencer must make it obvious that the content is an ‘advertisement’. This should be a clear indication to the follower that the content has bias.
• If the influencer is making some specific claims, they should be diligently substantiated by the advertiser or brand owner
Rajni Daswani, Director at SoCheers
Influencer Marketing is a $100 million industry in India now, and brands of all kinds – big or small – are benefiting from using influencers & content creators to drive their business objectives.
The fact that it’s been unregulated so far, we have seen some brands sneakily get away with things that would not be considered ethical if it were to be shown in a TVC or an OOH.
The guidelines will serve as a good guardrail in these cases. However, on the flip side, the popularity of influencer marketing in a brand’s marketing budget is due to the flexibility of communication that allows them to showcase the benefits of their products & services in different ways without it looking very promotional.
Digital consumers today are smart enough to understand what is an Advert vs what is organic, and hence brands are willing to pay more to get their promotional material to look as organic as possible. With these guidelines kicking in, we might see the overall engagement and reach with influencers drop and might see it get the same status quo as a paid media ad on digital.
I think while these guidelines are necessary, they should not be extremely stringent so as to avoid creating a dent in the overall influencer marketing industry that is growing at a faster pace than ever.
Jo Broner, WIBA Spokesperson (Paris)
At the heart of it, ASCI is recognizing the digital influencer space as part of the mainstream industry now, which is very good news for the influencers.
It is going to build more trust between the artists and their audience with increased transparency. It also means the marketers have to channelize verifiable information and not unverifiable marketing claims.
Influencers connect with curated communities, who listen to them for the credibility they bring, so they have an inherent moral responsibility to not breach the trust of their audience, ASCI is bolstering it with new laws, and that is going to bring in due discipline in the environment, so it’s a welcome move.
Kunal Kishore Sinha, Co-founder, ClanConnect
SCI’s newly issued guidelines for influencer marketing will unlock a wealth of new opportunities for the fast-evolving segment that will result in positive outcomes for the sector in the long run.
When a major industry body such as the ASCI deems that there is a need to introduce guidelines for influencers and the influencer marketing community, it shows how the market has evolved and has assumed a mainstream stature in the larger advertising space.
These guidelines will not only streamline the space and offer a direction but also ensure that there is an added sense of social responsibility amongst the influencer community.
Needless to say, we welcome this move by the ASCI for the segment as it will act as a guiding light for new and established content creators, who will now be more mindful of the kind of content that they are bringing to their target audiences. An extremely positive move from the ASCI, these guidelines will act as a catalyst for more organized and structured platforms such as ClanConnect to set new benchmarks for the industry as a whole.
Platforms such as ours will play a major role in assisting content creators in navigating through the various regulations and conform to them without any inadvertent missteps. With ASCI introducing these guidelines, the influencer marketing segment also joins the league of recognized and celebrated domains of the advertising ecosystem and indicates further growth and evolution for this space.
Ankit Agarwal – Founder Do Your Thing
USA’s FTC and UK’S ASA both issued regulations years back outlining explicit do’s and don’ts for influencers. It was high time influencer marketing in India followed the same path.
The lack of guidelines gave more oxygen to damaging content, and it chipped away the hard-earned trust in creators. When consumers know an ad is an ad or content just that – mere organic content, which is one of the rules in the draft: upfront labelling on ads; the confidence in a creator is not broken.
When creators are authentic, including being straightforward about sponsored content, they make more impact and deliver deeper engagement. That’s why I have been vocal about the necessity for the entire niche to abide by advertising rules from day one.
With this framework from ASCI, that hopefully comes into play in April, we finally move the needle on streamlining the sector that has been unorganized for far too long.
Amol Roy, Founder, Shutter Cast
Even though digital media offers various benefits, it does come with its share of challenges. One of the major hurdles that we as digital marketers often come across Is that consumers are unable to differentiate between the editorial content and advertisements. To ensure clear demarcation and segregation, the guidelines by ASCI are essential.
Considering influencers are a growing community, their inclusion in the guidelines is important since they are the mediators and will help in the communication of the messaging whether the content is editorial-based or advertisement-based.
The influencer base is increasing rapidly and the aim is to enforce the disclosure of the kind of content right at the beginning so that the target audience is aware and scrolls further accordingly and not deceptively.
These guidelines will not only help the brands in extending clear communication but will also uplift influencer networking in India. Such a step will bestow them with more powers and responsibilities. All I hope the guidelines to be well received by the audiences and the objective behind implementing these are achieved.