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Social Media Influencers Must Declare Promoted Content, Says Ad Regulator

Influencers will need to verify if the claims being made in the ads are valid. (Representational)

Highlights

  • Influencers will have to declare if a product is part of a promotion
  • Guidelines say advertising labels should be visible for video content
  • Content can’t be digitally manipulated to show a product in better light

New Delhi:

Digital media influencers, Youtubers and celebrities promoting their favorite brands might have to be a bit more cautious going forward as a new draft regulation by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) stipulates that all influencers will have to declare if a product or a service is being covered as part of a promotion. 

The guidelines say that advertising labels should be clearly visible for video content on all platforms, including mobile phones. For audio content, the disclosure will have to be announced before and after the content. In case of social platforms like Instagram, the guidelines suggest that the disclosure label be superimposed on the image. The content cannot be digitally manipulated to show the product in better light.

Influencers will also need to verify whether the claims being made in the advertisement are valid and can be substantiated.

Secretary general of ASCI Manisha Kapoor said: “The biggest part of the new rules is to tell consumers that you are watching an ad and not content. That disclosure has to be in a prominent position.”

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The guidelines are similar to the Federal Trade commission guidelines in the United States and could carry fines if breached. The draft proposal is up for public debate till March 8 and is expected to be rolled out by April 15.

The regulations come at a time where proper disclosure of paid engagements or the lack of it by celebrities and online influencers has come into question. Influencer marketing is currently estimated to be between $75 million to $150 million in India.

With the new regulations, media consumers and followers can expect some checks to ensure that lightly-veiled advertisements are no longer promoted as information.

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