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Influencers must label promotional content on digital platforms, says ASCI

The guidelines make it mandatory for influencers to label promotional content they post and do due diligence of products/services being promoted.Premium
The guidelines make it mandatory for influencers to label promotional content they post and do due diligence of products/services being promoted.

Advertisement industry regulator Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) on Thursday made it mandatory for online influencers to prominently label promotional content and do appropriate due diligence about products or services they promote, starting next month

NEW DELHI: Advertisement industry regulator Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) on Thursday made it mandatory for online influencers to prominently label promotional content and do appropriate due diligence about products or services they promote, starting next month.

The final guidelines for influencers’ advertising on digital media platforms will be applicable to all commercial messages or advertisements published on or after 14 June.

ASCI said disclosures about branded content must be clearly visible and must stay on the content for a pre-decided duration, depending on the length of the video. These guidelines are applicable for content across blogs, apps, websites, social media platforms, video streaming platforms and digital terrestrial television, among others.

In case of a complaint, the advertiser can ask the influencer to delete or edit an advertisement or the disclosure label to adhere to the ASCI code and guidelines.

Noting that the line between advertising and organic content is blurring, Subhash Kamath, chairman of ASCI, said that consumers have the right to know the difference between paid and organic content so that they make an informed choice.

“It is absolutely critical to have guidelines given how influencer marketing business is growing in India. It is becoming mainstream, which simply means a large number of consumers will get impacted by it, and therefore a certain degree of credibility needs to come in the industry. These guidelines will help influencers form trusted relationships with their followers," he added.

To actively monitor social media platforms for defaulters, ASCI has partnered with a French technology provider, Reech, which will use artificial intelligence (AI) to scan digital content.

“The Reech Influence Cloud platform uses AI to identify lack of disclosure on posts of a commercial nature on social media," said Manisha Kapoor, secretary-general, ASCI.

The influencer-related complaints will be a part of the ASCI monthly consumer complaint report, where it discloses the details of misleading advertisement complaints that it receives.

“With a steep rise in internet users consuming advertising on various digital platforms, the guidelines are need of the hour. I strongly believe that it always pays in the long run if an influencer is transparent. Adding a simple paid-partnership tag will prevent an influencer’s follower base from feeling deceived, while it will also help avoid any kind of backlash in the comment section," said Ritesh Ujjwal, chief executive officer and co-founder, Kofluence, an influencer marketing agency.

Along with the guidelines, ASCI is launching ASCI. Social platform, a one-stop destination for all information related to the guidelines. The digital platform will be interactive with dos and don’ts, FAQs, information related to the guidelines etc. Over time, ASCI.Social aims to create a community of social media influencers, consumers, advertisers, and talent management agencies.

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