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June 1, 2021

ASCI introduced new guidelines that from June 14 Influencers will have to label identify paid posts

by Mahesh Mara in Compliance Law

ASCI introduced new guidelines that from June 14 Influencers will have to label identify paid posts

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has released the final guidelines and ropes in technology partner to check violations. Social media influencers will need to mandatory label promotional content on their social media posts from June 14th 2021. This is part of the final guidelines for influencer advertising on digital media released by Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) on Thursday.

These guidelines have been finalised after a public consultation process and puts the onus of the disclosure and the content regarding claims on both the social media influencer as well as the advertiser.

Who is an Influencer as per new ASCI guidelines?

An Influencer is someone who has access to an audience and the power to affect their audience’s purchasing decisions or opinions about a product, service, brand or experience, because of the influencer’s authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their audience, An influencer can intervene in an editorial context or in collaboration with a brand to publish content.

What are the disclosure label options under the new ASCI guidelines?

The disclosure label options under the new ASCI guidelines are as below:

  • #ad
  • #collab
  • #promo
  • #sponsored
  • #partnership

No other labels may be used as consumers may not be familiar with short forms or other words to connote advertisements. This list will be periodically reviewed to add any new labels that become popular or recognised by an average consumer as a way to connote promotional communication.

What are the Guidelines for Influencer advertising on digital media?

  • Advertisements must be obviously distinguishable by the average consumer from editorial and independent user-generated content, to prevent the audience from being confused between the two. Therefore a disclosure label must be added from the list of approved labels. Only permitted disclosure labels will be considered as adequate as consumers may not be familiar with various creative ways in which advertisers and influencers may wish to convey that the said communication is an advertisement. Examples of such advertisements could be paid music promotion in a video, promoting a store or a brand through a post on the influencers media handle
  • The disclosure label used to highlight advertising content needs to be upfront (within the first two lines of any given platform, such that a consumer need not click on see more or have to scroll under the fold), prominent (so people don’t miss it), appropriate for the channel (what can you see and when) and suitable for all potential devices (it needs to be visible regardless of the device used, or platform such as website or app etc.).
  • The disclosure label must be in English or translated into the language of the advertisement in a way that it is well understood by the average consumer who is viewing the advertisement.
  • Blanket disclosures in a profile/bio/about section will not be considered adequate because people visiting the site might read individual reviews or watch individual videos without seeing the disclosure on another page
  • If the advertisement is only a picture post such as Instagram stories or Snapchat, the label needs to be superimposed over the picture and it should be ensured that the average consumer is able to see it clearly.
  • 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. In 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.
  • In the case of audio media, the disclosure label must be clearly announced at the beginning and at the end of the audio.
  • Filters should not be applied to social media advertisements if they exaggerate the effect of the claim that the brand is making- eg. makes hair shinier, teeth whiter 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.
  • It is recommended that the contractual agreement between advertiser and influencer carries clauses pertaining to disclosure, use of filters as well as due diligence

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