ISBA tackles fake followers and content labelling with new influencer marketing contracts

ISBA has updated its influencer marketing contracts to bring better “commercial discipline” to the relationship between brands and influencers after finding that while marketers plan to up spend in this area, most still don’t feel confident working with influencers.

influencer marketing

ISBA is updating its influencer contract to make it a “much more serious tool” as it looks to help brands tackle issues such as content labelling and follower fraud.

The new suite of contracts includes the first framework for micro-influencers and updates to the contracts for brands working directly with celebrity and social talent and those working with talent agencies.

The aim is to bring a more commercial view to these contracts after research carried out by Gravity Thinking for ISBA earlier this year found that while 80% of its members are planning to increase their influencer marketing budgets, 60% of those that use influencer don’t feel confident working with them.

Having spoken with major brands, ISBA’s director of consultancy Debbie Morrison, says the new contracts are a “much more serious tool” to help its members navigate the landscape.

“Brands are determined to manage this more smartly,” she tells Marketing Week, given a number of brands are currently only “loosely managing” their influencer relationships and don’t have a strategy in place across the business.

The new contracts now include clauses dealing directly with content labelling after ISBA found this was a real point of confusion for brands despite both CAP rules and guidance from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) laying out how content should be flagged.

Brands don’t want to work with influencers who build fake audiences, they want genuine traffic, not bots.

Debbie Morrison, ISBA

The issue, says Morrison, is that while there are UK rules in this area, the platforms have their own guidance, with brands “more inclined to listen to what the platforms say than understanding the advertising codes”.

ISBA has therefore upweighted guidance in this area, adding in a briefing guide that recommends brands deal with the issue of content labelling up front and make it part of their contract that influencers must adhere to the ad rules.

“We are emphasising that brands have to discuss this with influencers, it can’t go unsaid,” explains Morrison. “This is an area the government is looking at, with the CMA, worried about misleading consumers, looking again at the market. Brands need to take this seriously.”

The contracts have also been updated to include specific clauses about fake followers that lays out to influencers what brands expect of them. The issue has risen up the agenda since Unilever marketing boss Keith Weed called out the issue at Cannes earlier this year.

READ MORE: Keith Weed – The only solution to fake follower fraud is total eradication

It also suggests marketers adopt “more sophisticated” metrics than just volumes of likes, which could encourage influencers to build fake audiences.

“Quality of audiences is paramount,” says Morrison. “Brands don’t want to work with influencers who build fake audiences, they want genuine traffic, not bots.”

The micro-influencer contract is a lighter version of the main contract, aimed at covering both parties while ensuring commercial discipline. The aim of all three contracts is to ensure both the brand and influencer understand what is expected of them and to establish that at the start of the relationship.

ISBA has worked with various disciplines to produce the contract, including procurement teams, marketers and legal. Lewis Silkin helped ISBA create the final contract.

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