The guideline requires a disclosure label to be added to highlight advertising content
As influencers continue to catch the attention on social media, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) on Monday issued draft guidelines for influencer advertising on digital media. The guidelines require a disclosure label by the advertisers and influencers to be added to highlight advertising content. “The digital space is vast. However, promotional content is often indistinguishable from regular posts. The guidelines will help consumers identify promotional content and also guide digital influencers,” Subhash Kamath, chairman, ASCI, said.
Industry experts believe that these guidelines will aid in promoting transparency in the long run. Moreover, these guidelines will align the Indian online advertising industry with international markets such as the UK, France and the US, amongst others. At the heart of such guidelines is the need to retain the inclusivity of social media, Arijit Ray, chief executive officer and founder, The Unlock Company, told BrandWagon Online. “Over the years, brands have come under immense pressure from consumers to not crowd the news feed with sponsored content, sometimes trying to pass off without the commercial tag. Across markets, consumers have been demanding for transparency. They find it difficult to deal with a barrage of sponsored content,” he added further.
According to digital marketing agency AdLift’s recent study, India’s influencer market is estimated at $75-150 million a year as compared to the global market of $1.75 billion. For Prashant Puri, co-founder and CEO, AdLift, there needs to be a distinguishable mark to separate advertising. “As influencer marketing is growing, taking a higher chunk of advertising revenue, there should be guidelines put in place to call out what is an ad and what isn’t to avoid any possible dent in the industry,” he stated. For Ashwini Deshpande, co-founder and director, Elephant Design – a design agency, if influencers want to be followed by their audience, it is necessary for them to stay interesting, honest, creative while managing the art of storytelling to keep consumers engaged.
When contacted by BrandWagon Online, influencers including Dolly Singh, declined to comment.
However, industry experts opine that the guidelines have new and grey areas which require to be corrected. For instance, in the case of disclosure labels — the size, font, positioning, standardisation across different platforms, among others. “More importantly, do these structures also come into play and force when celebrities and influencers get involved with political parties during election campaigns, among others or when politicians get involved with promoting brands,” Prathap Suthan, managing partner and chief creative officer, BangInTheMiddle, stated.
It should be noted that all stakeholders, including industry, digital influencers as well as consumers can provide their feedback on the draft guidelines till March 8, 2021. Based on the feedback and inputs, final guidelines will be issued by ASCI by March 31, 2021. These guidelines will be applicable to all promotional posts published on or after April 15, 2021.