Social Media

Artificial intelligence to be used to ensure influencers comply with advertising code

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland ‘will use tech tools to capture information to assess’ social media posts.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS set to be used to ensure that influencers are not breaching advertising codes in social media posts.

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) “will use tech tools to capture information to assess” the posts, according to ASAI chief executive Orla Twomey.

This information will then be used to determine whether there are breaches of the advertising code.

Research carried out on behalf of the ASAI reveals that a lack of authenticity, edited photos, too many paid ads and influencers misrepresenting real life are the top things causing annoyance amongst Irish consumers.

Speaking to Newstalk’s Breakfast Briefing, Twomey said that the ASAI is working with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) “to develop additional guidance about what is required for disclosure making”.

Under Irish law, influencers cannot “mislead” consumers about “direct or indirect sponsorship”.

“The [artificial intelligence] tools will be able to provide us with a snapshot in time,” said Twomey, “and then we’ll be able to identify whether or not influencers and brands that they work with are disclosing correctly.

“And if they’re not, we’ll engage with them to try and bring them into compliance with the code and if that doesn’t work, we will do formal investigations where they will be named and shamed as not disclosing property and abusing the trust that their followers have in them.”


Twomey said research by the ASAI shows there is a need for more transparency from influencers with regard to labelling their sponsored content clearly and correctly, as well as more guidance and education for both consumers and influencers alike in this space.

Nearly 7 in 10 (67%) are familiar with the practice of influencer marketing, with awareness being highest amongst those age 35 and under, at 75%.

The research carried out on behalf of the ASAI also revealed that only one in 10 people have trust in what influencers post on social media

Meanwhile, over half of Irish consumers (56%) trust brand advertisements more than social posts by influencers.

Over 60% are “annoyed” by the “inauthenticity of influencers” while 67% consider edited images the most ‘annoying’ feature.

“If you’re promoting a product, and you’re saying that it will have this effect on you, then you have to show the real effect,” Twomey told Newstalk.

“You can’t enhance it to such a stage that it’s actually misleading. For example, if it’s a product that is a tanning product, then you have to show how the product actually works, and not use filters to enhance how it will look because that’s likely to mislead.”

The research also unveiled confusion over the hashtags used in social media posts.

55% of people recognised #ad (55%) but 59% didn’t recognise #sp (sponsored post).

71% of people were aware that when an influencer posts an affiliate link that they are being paid by the brand being linked.

“There are so many different types of relationships that brands and influencers can have,” acknowledged Twomey.

She added: “From our perspective, if there’s any commercial relationship where the brand is providing money or goods or services free of charge, and the influencer has to post certain types of content, then that’s an advertisement.

“Outside social media, we know what an ad is. Once we get that level of consumer awareness and influencers always using the same type of words, then I think that a lot of the way to fix the problem. And we have to remember not everything an influencer post is actually an ad.”

While Twomey said some influencers are “very experienced” and “ought to know the rules”, she noted that some influencers “happen to fall into it”.

“Once we have developed the guidance with the CCPC, we will do a programme of education so that we can ensure that influencers are aware of what they’re doing,” said Twomey.

However, she added: “You may have fallen into it, but it is a business and there is a requirement in business to know the rules that you’re expected to comply with.

“There is an onus on influencers to inform themselves of what they need to do and anecdotally, we’re very aware that followers will tell the influencers they’re following, ‘you’re not disclosing’, so it’s not a hidden thing that you have to disclose.”

Kevin O’Brien, member of the CCPC, said the ASAI’s research “reinforces that platforms and brands must take greater responsibility for educating and informing their users and consumers”.

He added that platforms and brands “must support influencers in clearly and consistently labelling paid content so that consumers are not misled”.

“The objective is to ensure that all commercial marketing communications are legal, decent, honest and truthful,” said O’Brien.

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