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Influencers in India hit with new influencer advertising rules on digital media

The ASCI reveals 10 guidelines influencers must follow in order to avoid social media ad violations.

Influencers in India hit with new influencer advertising rules on digital media.

In February 2021, the Advertising Standards Council of India [ASCI] released new guidelines on how influencers in India should advertise on digital media.

With promotional ads becoming increasingly harder to identify, the ASCI’s new guidelines will aim to help consumers spot promoted content that is intended to ‘influence their opinion or behavior for an immediate or eventual commercial gain’.

Moreover –  according to ASCI – if a consumer is unable to distinguish whether content is promoted or not – then the promotional ad would violate clause 1.4 and 1.5 of ASCI’s current rules on misleading advertisements: ‘misleading by omission’ and ‘abuse trust of consumers or exploit their lack of experience or knowledge’ respectively.

To ensure that the consumer is always aware when they are viewing promotional content, the ASCI will now require influencers to disclose that an ad is an ad through the use of a disclosure label.

At the moment – influencers must include one of the following labels: #ad #collab #promo #sponsored #partnership: the label must be upfront –  so the consumer is immediately aware that it’s an ad before he or she views it.

Hashtags not included in this approved list will not be recognized by the ASCI. Moreover – if a disclosure is not made – then the burden of responsibility for the violation will fall both on the influencer and the brand that’s being advertised for.

To ensure 100% clarity on these new rules, the ASCI has published 10 key advertising guidelines that influencer’s must follow on social media. We have briefly summarized them below:

1. Ads must be clear and distinguishable to the consumer. It must also include one of the approved disclosure labels [listed above]: the ASCI will not accept creative or under-the-radar tactics such as ‘paid music promotion’ or hidden product placement without use of one of the approved labels. 

2. The disclosure label for an ad must be ‘upfront’ and included ‘within the first 2 lines of any given platform’ to ensure that the consumer does not click or view that ad without consent.

3. The disclosure label must be in english or in the predominant language spoken by the target audience. 

4. Each individual ad must have a disclosure label. ‘Blanket Disclosures’ put in the influencer’s profile/about/bio section will not be permitted.

5. Picture Ads – such as those in an Instagram story or Snapchat’ – must include a disclosure label that is clearly visible to the consumer.

6. Video Ads must also include a disclosure label that is clearly visible to the consumer: For videos that are: 15 seconds or less – the label must be visible for at least 2 seconds; for 15 seconds to 2 minutes – the label must be visible for ⅓ the length of the video; for 2+ minutes – the label must be visible for the ‘entire duration’ that the promoted brand or product is discussed. And lastly, for live videos – the label must be visible for ‘5 seconds at the end of every minute’ to ensure that new attendees for the stream are aware they are viewing promoted content. 

7. Audio ads must include a disclosure label at the beginning and at the end of the audio.

8. Filters that exaggerate a feature or a claim made by a product – such as a filter that smoothes out skin – are not permitted.

9. Influencers need to provide evidence of due diligence on any ‘technical or performance’ claims made by the advertised brand. For example – if a skin product claims it will clear acne – the influencer would need to correspond with the brand to confirm that this claim is backed by scientific evidence.

10. The ASCI advises that contractual agreements between advertisers and influencers should contain clauses regarding filter use, due diligence, and disclosures.