The Advertising Standards Authority has published AdHelp’s information for influencers in New Zealand titled “Influencers: Making it clear that ads are ads” to highlight the importance of clearly identifying advertising, including influencer advertising content.
The new guidelines outline that an influencer may “be an advertiser” and “may act as a media platform.”
“An influencer is someone who has access to an audience (regardless of size) for their own organic content and ad content they generate income from,” the guidelines state.
“Influencers who develop and/or distribute content about products or services in return for some form of payment are providing a platform for advertising.”
The guidelines include examples of content that it classes as advertising, including content about an influencer’s own products or services, stating that these products or services being advertised must be clearly labelled as such.
“Consumers should know it is advertising at their first interaction with the ad content. Labels or other means used to identify ad content must be obvious, clear, prominent and upfront and they must be separate from other disclosures, hashtags or links,” the guidelines read.
Gifting has been a long-debated topic and now the ASA has stated the ‘gifting’ of a free product or service also constitutes as advertising. “A free product or service constitutes an exchange of value between advertiser and influencer and has been given to the influencer for a reason. That is, to obtain a review that is shared with the influencer’s followers.”
The common hashtags often used, including #gift, #gifted, #PRSample, or #ambassador, must follow a clear statement that the product is an ad.
“Payment’ can be any benefit the influencer may receive in exchange for the content they distribute including but not limited to: money, free product or service, credit, event tickets, travel, product loans,” the document states.
It also outlines that advertisers and their agents should ensure their expectations on the identification of ad content is made clear in their influencer contracts and with the gifted products or services provided where there is no formal contract.
The guide also highlights examples of common mistakes with labels and what else influencers should consider before posting advertising content.
The ad label requirements will apply to all ad content from September 14.