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Consumer protection

From today, influencers have to label paid promotional posts as ads

New guidance addresses paid promotion, and items ‘gifted’ by brands.

INFLUENCERS IN IRELAND have been instructed from today to use the hashtag #Ad if their social media posts contain branded gifts or feature their own products.

The new rules have been devised by the Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) and the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI), which published new guidance for Irish influencers regarding the clear labelling of ads on social media.

The guidance addresses paid promotion, items ‘gifted’ by brands or PR agencies, and the advertising of own-brand products and services.

The joint guidance has been developed following “extensive research, including experiments with eye-tracking technology and a survey of 500 social media users,” the two agencies said in a statement.

A number of influencers were also asked to review the new guidance and provide feedback to the CCPC, the statement said. 

Under the new guidance issued today, Kevin O’Brien of the CCPC said “clear labelling benefits everyone”. 

“Our research found that consumers consistently overestimated their ability to identify influencer advertising. This guidance will support influencers to comply with their obligations under the law so that consumers know when they are being advertised to,” said O’Brien. 

“It is in everybody’s interest for influencers to be honest with their audience and transparent about their advertising. CCPC research found that many consumers felt misled after purchasing an item on the advice of an influencer, and that levels of trust in influencers generally are very low. Clear labelling benefits everyone.

“It is an offence to mislead a consumer, and influencers who fail to comply with Ireland’s consumer protection legislation may be subject to enforcement action up to and including prosecution.”

Chief Executive of the ASAI Orla Twomey said that consumers shouldn’t have to question if and when they are being advertised to and that it should be “instantly clear” when this is the case.

“The fundamental requirement for any advertising to be identifiable as such has been in existence for over 40 years,” she said.

“This new joint guidance will continue to improve compliance in influencer marketing, and consumer awareness and understanding in this area.”

Under the Consumer Protection Act of 2007, a trader (influencer in this case) must make it clear if their posts are of a commercial nature, otherwise they could be breaking the law by misleading consumers. 

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