ASA reports on ‘unacceptable’ influencer fraud: 65 per cent of ads are not disclosed

Influencers love to claim that they are “authentic” and hard-working but they haven’t been doing themselves any favours lately. First they get caught sneaking off to lockdown-free Dubai, and now the ASA has exposed them for failing to declare ads on Instagram, where as many of 65 per cent of branded posts are not clearly labelled.

The ASA, which now takes a much more proactive role in monitoring the advertising ecosystem, followed 122 UK-based influencers on Instagram (the most complained about social media platform) for three weeks.

After assessing 24,000 pieces of content, they found an “unacceptable” level of compliance. Two thirds of branded posts were either unlabelled, or had labels that were so inconspicuous that they were useless. Other offenses included labelling one post in a series of ads, but not the rest.

The ASA’s most recent annual report for 2019 report showed that complaints against influencer ads made up more than a quarter of all online complaints.

Guy Parker, ASA chief executive, said: “There’s simply no excuse not to make clear to the public when positive messages in posts have been paid-for by a brand. While some influencers have got their houses in order, our monitoring shows how much more there is to do. We’ve given influencers and brands fair warning. We’re now targeting our follow-up monitoring and preparing for enforcement action.”

ISBA has promised to help its members to sort themselves out. Director general Phil Smith said: “The ASA’s disclosure rules are there for all to see – and are mandatory. Non-compliance is clearly unacceptable. We are working on an influencer marketing code of conduct which we intend will raise standards, enable authentic and quality ads, and help deliver the transparency consumers expect and deserve.”

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall
Emma Hall is a journalist and editorial consultant and is the former Europe Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.