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.
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