The guidelines come against the backdrop of the fact that due to the increasing popularity of social media influencers, brands are increasingly relying on them to promote their products.
Guidelines for Social Media influencers: Influencers on social media could be directed to label advertising content as promotional. In its draft guidelines, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has said that all social media influencers would need to clearly and prominently label content that is promoting a product or a service on digital platforms. The ASCI is a voluntary, self-governing body for advertising.
The guidelines come against the backdrop of the fact that due to the increasing popularity of social media influencers, brands are increasingly relying on them to promote their products, marking a key shift from regular television advertisements that used TV or movie stars to promote the products. If the draft guidelines come into force, influencers would be bound by a strict code that they must follow to properly disclose their promotional posts to the users.
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The body would be accepting feedback for these draft guidelines from consumers, industry as well as digital influencers till March 8, after which the process of finalising the guidelines would begin. ASCI expects the finalised guidelines to be in place by March 31 this year, with their implementation on promotional content beginning on or after April 15.
The body said that the posts that promote any product or service must be obviously distinguishable to the average consumers, so that they do not confuse it with independent or editorial content, which is why a disclosure label would need to be added from a list of approved labels.
The list of approved labels issued by the ASCI for promotional content include hashtags like collab, ad, partnership, promo and sponsored. The organisation also clarified that the disclosure would be considered adequate only if the permitted labels are used, because consumers might not be able to decipher any creative method that the influencers might use to disclose such a partnership for advertising purposes.
Moreover, this disclosure would also need to be placed within the first two lines of the post itself, as per the draft guidelines. Apart from that, in case the promotional content is just an image, like a story on Instagram, then the label would need to be prominently superimposed on the image, the guidelines state.