ASA Publish Influencers Guide

At the end of September 2018, the ASA (Advertising Standards Agency), released a guide for influencers laying out what their rules are, what the ASA considers to be an advertisement, how to disclose those properly and what happens if someone makes a complaint about something you publish. 

The ASA also included a flowchart to help make it simple whether something needs disclosing or not.

The guide goes into detail about what the rules of advertising are that influencer marketing can fall under such as section 2 which contains rules about how ads must be clearly recognisable as ads. They also talk about how rules set by the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) affect influencer marketing, such as how editorial content (which is how blog posts and social media posts are classified) is disclosed as being influenced in some way.

Interestingly, the influencers guide defines what counts as an ad, but also mentions affiliate marketing. This is an interesting one as many bloggers may think they know about having to disclose posts where they have received a good, service or payment in return, but we see so many who don’t bother to disclose the affiliate links, especially on social media. 

For affiliate ads, you are effectively acting as a secondary advertiser so you need to make sure that all your content follows all of the relevant rules

ASA Influencer’s Guide, September 2018

The guide talks about what counts as payment for advertorial content including if you are an ambassador for the brand – this is relevant this week as W7 Cosmetics were cited for an influencers post that did not disclose she was an ambassador

The influencers guide is an interesting read and one that all influencers and bloggers who are taking part in any sort of sponsored post must read – not knowing what the rules are is no excuse for non disclosure

However, it does highlight that the ASA does not look into nondisclosure of sponsorships or whether you receive a product to review but the brand does not have any control what you post about it. It does mention that this could potentially fall under the remit of the CMA, but for best practice, we would recommend disclosing anything that you receive in the hope that you will review. 

The guide recommends avoiding terms like “In association with“, “Thanks to [brand] for making this possible” or even just mentioning the brand’s social handle because these terms don’t make it clear that an item was provided to you. It specifically says to put the disclosure at the start of a social post to make it clear, especially for mobile users. You may remember that this is something we highlighted in our best practice guide earlier this year, so it’s good to have this confirmed. 

The main thing to remember is that you need to make it obvious

ASA Influencer’s Guide, September 2018

Another section we found super interesting was how advertising things like alcohol and gambling – if you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know this is something we feel strongly about, and gave a talk about it a few years ago.

The section talking about what happens if someone complains about your content to the ASA is pretty interesting as well – the ASA will get in touch and ask some questions to help them work out whether there is an issue. They will help you work to resolve any problems if needed. 

If you would like to read the full guide (and we really recommend that you do!), head over to the ASA’s website to download it.

If you would like to see our previous post about what we would recommend as best practice for UK blog disclosure, make sure to check out our post from earlier this year . 

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