Instagram is the key: many companies today rely on collaborations with influencers. However, there is still a lot of confusion when it comes to properly label advertisements. The reasons for this are that many court decisions and statements are contradictory and/or not clear enough, and a uniform guideline does not exist.
Because of this, we would like to take this opportunity to provide all the information you need about labelling advertisements correctly.
The world of social media advertising is always evolving!
The situation of labelling advertisements correctly is quite confusing. On Instagram, almost every post with branding information is now labelled as an advertisement. That’s why it’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell paid and unpaid advertising apart. Some time ago, however, major influencers received verdicts on labelling advertisements, which can now be used as a guide. With our short guide, you will find your way through the labelling jungle.
Although our article is well researched, it does not replace full legal advice!
Why is it so important to label your posts correctly?
You may be violating consumer protection law if you mislead your followers, and you could face enforcement action from the CMA, local authority Trading Standards services, or the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland if you do so. You might also break advertising industry rules in the process.
The social media stars Jodie Marsh, Chloe Khan, Lucy Mecklengurgh and Chloe Ferry had been disregarding the advertising rules continuously in the past. According to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), this behaviour can have consequences such as the removal of their posts, financial penalties and being named on a dedicated list of those who have broken the rules. The ASA claims that these influencers will stay on that list and be subjected to increased monitoring and spot checks for a period of time. Therefore, it is important to understand how to label your posts correctly.
What counts as an ad?
In order to know how to label properly, one must understand what counts as an advertisement. So, let’s take a closer look at affiliate marketing. Because you are basically operating as a secondary advertiser when using affiliate links, you must ensure that your content complies with all relevant rules. Regarding advertorial, if you collaborate with a brand to develop content for your own channels, it counts as an advertisement if the brand pays or gifts you and controls the content that you’re posting about it. Payments include, for example, cash, compensation, free gifts, and free services. Control is the commitment to create content with the instructions provided by the brand owner. If both payment and control are given, your content is considered as an ad.
How do I label my posts correctly?
Your viewers must be able to identify your posts as an advertisement without having to interact with your posts or click on anything. It needs to be obvious that this is an advertisement, otherwise more needs to be done to make this clear. According to the ASA, the best terms for labelling your posts are Ad, Advert, Advertising, Advertisement. It is recommended to include one of these at the beginning of a caption or on an image so that viewers can directly identify the post as an ad. According to the ASA, you should stay away from the labels, Sponsorship, Spon, in association with, or just simply @ mentioning the brand.
What does this mean for labelling advertisements at stylink?
All in all, the overall impression of a post is important for the labelling obligation. If you have received money for a post, this must be immediately apparent to your followers. Since you receive a per-click payment when using our recommendation links, this counts as a monetary benefit and thus as payment. This means that you must mark every story that contains a stylink as an advertisement because you link via the recommendation links to the websites of the manufacturers through which the products are bought. Also, keep this in mind for our campaigns. The same rules apply.
Conclusion: What must you pay attention to?
If you show products that were sent free of charge or receive money for postings, you must label them with advertising. Keep receipts for purchased products and do not link directly to the shop without labelling it as advertising.
One last note from us: this is of course only the current status and does not replace legal advice. There are always updates and changes to the laws, but of course, we will keep you informed about them on our blog!