Influencers are paid to promote products and gain attention for brands. The ease of reaching large audiences through social media means digital influence has become a valuable commodity for brands - to the benefit of those who command significant followings online. But in an effort to look out for the consumer, the Advertising Standards Authority has recently published a new code.

Jenny Taaffe, founder and chief executive of iZest marketing, said that when an advertiser conducts business with an individual, in the same way they would with a media partner like RTE, they need to be very transparent about that business. The new code, which came in on March 7, makes that transparency explicit. She explained that if a brand is promoting anything through any online channel - their own website, their own social media or in a partnership with a blogger or an influencer - they must be explicit about the relationship. 

Ms Taaffe said the new code is bound to result in a bit of confusion and lack of understanding in the industry, but added that it will become more relevant in the future. Referring to a campaign for Oreo in the UK which featured YouTube stars and which has been banned by the advertising watchdog for not clearly telling the public their videos were ads, Ms Taaffe said the company was "named and shamed". She said she believed the new code will work in the same way here, and added that no brand wants to be dragged into the press in any bad light. She predicted a period of education for both the advertiser and the influencers, adding that the industry is looking forward to how it plays out.

MORNING BRIEFS - Oil prices continue their big slide this morning following the failure of 18 leading oil exporters to agree a deal to freeze production in Doha yesterday. The first global output deal in 15 years proved elusive. Brent Crude for June delivery was down $3 or 7 % to $40.10 at one stage this morning.

*** One of the country's largest recruitment firms, Hays, is itself in the market for new staff. The company plans to hire 60 new staff almost doubling its workforce here to 130 in the process. The roles are full time positions aimed at graduates in a range of recruitment sectors including finance, IT and construction. The hiring drive follows what Hays described as an "extremely successful" 2015 and signs of further strong growth ahead.

*** Lotus Investment Group, a financier that specialises in lending to property developers and those looking to acquire property or development assets, has launched a €150m fund which it intends to allocate to Irish assets over the next six months. Lotus has already advanced millions in loans here to developers looking to refinance debt acquired by private equity firms from NAMA and from non-NAMA lenders selling off distressed assets. The company is based in Dublin and led by Irishman Ian Lawlor but was founded by US hedge fund manager David Grin and is backed by wealthy investors based primarily in New York.