Influencers who fail to disclose ads are ‘tarnishing industry and brands’

Influencers who fail to disclose ads are ‘tarnishing industry and brands’

Duncan is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in journalism. Having launched his tech journalism career as editor of Arabian Computer News in Dubai, he has since edited an array of tech and digital marketing publications, including Computer Business Review, TechWeekEurope, Figaro Digital, Digit and Marketing Gazette.

Influencers and digital creators who fail to disclose adverts and commercial content within their posts are damaging an industry which has managed to shake off the “wild-west” tags of the past.

That’s the view of influencer marketing agency, Disrupt, following a European Union study released this week, which shows that four out of five influencers on social media fail to disclose commercial content, as required under EU and UK law.

Stevie Johnson, MD of Disrupt, said: “I’m astounded to see that around 80% of influencers are apparently not disclosing commercial content. So much good has been done to tighten up the rules over the last few years that this seems like a backward step and proves that brands – as well as influencers – are getting it wrong when it comes to influencer partnerships.

“These figures put a negative spin on an industry that has shaken off the wild-west tags of previous years. It shows that due diligence is required for brands to partner with the right professional talent who take these regulations seriously, and as a result won’t harm their brand by not using the correct disclosure.”

The European Commission report, released on February 14, showed that of 576 influencers studied, 97% posted commercial content on social media including Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Snapchat, and Twitch. But only 20% systematically indicated that it was advertising.

Under EU and UK law, content creators are obliged to disclose adverts within their posts. 

Johnson added: “Agencies like Disrupt ensure in our contracting process that all paid for content absolutely must be disclosed as an ad, in line with Advertising Standards Authority and Competition and Markets Authority rules.”

“In our experience, influencers nowadays have no issue with disclosing ads. They want to be authentic and truthful to their audience, and don’t want to risk the negative impact of pulling the wool over consumers eyes.

“Similarly, audiences can be just as engaged with this disclosed, branded content, as regular content…if the collaboration between influencer and brand is authentic, and there is a similar shared ethos between the 3 parties – brand, influencer and audience.”

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person? Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.

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