Brands should be aware of social platform ‘quirks’ when working with influencers

The Committee of Advertising Practice has released new guidelines for working with influencers in a bid to help brands “stick to the rules”.


Brands should be aware of the “quirks” of social media platforms and tailor the content accordingly when working with influencers, new advice from the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) says.

The guidelines on affiliate marketing, published today (9 March), look to help social influencers and brands stick to the rules by making clear to their followers when the content they are viewing is an ad. This will give consumers the choice on whether or not to engage.

Affiliate marketing is where an affiliate such as a blogger or Instagrammer is rewarded by a business for each new customer they attract through their marketing efforts. Affiliates usually place links online that direct anyone looking at that page to the website of the business and they receive a pre-agreed percentage of each sale.

If the influencer’s content is fully based around the affiliated products, CAP says it may be necessary to put ‘Ad’ in the title of the post so that it is clear the material is an advertisement before the user clicks through to the content.

READ MORE: Brands reluctant to be transparent about influencers as many fail to apply ad industry code

If not all the content is directly connected to those products, the whole post or video does not have to be identified as an ad, but each of the affiliate links must be identified as such.

Bloggers should also be aware of the “technical quirks” of each platform they use and at what opportunity they should identify something as an ad.

For example, in contexts where only an image is initially visible such as Instagram, CAP says an identifier like ‘Ad’ could be included on the image itself so the nature of the content is clear before followers click on the post.

Despite allowing influencers to control the content of the ad, brands are also responsible for ensuring the ads adhere to advertising rules.

Shahriar Coupal, director of CAP, says: “This new guidance helps affiliates and brands understand the importance of being upfront and clear with consumers, so people are not confused or misled and understand better when they’re viewing advertising rather than editorial content.”

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  • Nathan Harrington 9 Mar 2017 at 8:33 am

    I’m all for transparency however where does the line get drawn here? Affiliate marketing doesn’t just cover social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest (strangely no mention), it’s now an esatblished and mature multi billion pound industry. Are we now insisting that every affiliate link shows its a rewarded action (be it sale, quote, lead, sign-up etc.) – arguably any paid link on a site is an inferred recommendation?

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