Today’s legislation about influence marketing

The evolution of influence marketing over the past 5 years, makes it the new lever of digital marketing. Marketing sees the come-back of the opinion leaders embodied by the so-called influencers.  Influence has become a real godsend for brands and especially an essential passage when developing a communication strategy and distribution of the budget of the advertisers. 

This practice is still new in respect of traditional communication which explains why the law governing those practices are still undeveloped. From 2010, the year of the creation of Instagram until very recently, the right practices that frame the collaborations between influencers and brands are vague. Even if the influencers have the ability to choose between the hashtags #ad or #sp to warn their audience about a paid collaboration, it is not legally right. In the eyes of the law, a simple hashtag is not enough for a paid contract. 

In the same way, the advertiser buys advertising spaces, today they buy contents on an Instagram account of an influencer. The only difference, on Instagram it is not mandatory to notice that the post is a collaboration. The advertising space does not leave room for doubt. The public knows that it is a commercial advertising. It is precisely this vague on Instagram about the collaborations that bothers and pushed Instagram to develop new tools with a better transparency.

How did it evaluate? 

 

Instagram is becoming more and more an advertising showcase for brands. This evolution comes with a lot of changes. For example, the arrival of  the tag “Paid partnership with” created since February 2017 is popularized in France since September. It informs users that it is a paid collaboration. This new mention can be displayed on a classic post or on Instastory. For Instagram, implementing a tool allowing the transparency of paid collaborations on the platform was essential, particularly for the 700 millions daily users who trust them. 

 

Even if there are even some months, nothing forced the influencers to specify that some of their posts were sponsored and therefore using this tag. We can imagine with the evolutions that Instagram implement to make its network transparent, the law will only have to align itself. For example by making this tag mandatory for all paid collaboration. 

 

The professional regulatory organization for advertising in France, the “Autorité de Régulation Professionnelle de la Publicité (ARPP*), gathered on June 28, 2017 to adopt the rules that will frame the relationship between brands and influencers. Those rules are part of the recommendation “digital advertising communication” and are created by professionals for professionals aligned with the desire of Instagram to clearly display the presence of paid collaboration on its network. 

 

During this convention, bringing together brands, influencers and agencies, two rules educating the good practices of influence marketing were established: 

 

Rule 1, transparency: every collaboration must be visible in an explicit and immediate way. We talk about collaboration and engagement when it comes to: a gift, a trip or an invitation against a content. In all those cases, the collaboration must be visible in the eyes of the public. The ARPP (the professional regulatory organization for advertising in France) points out that not everybody is familiar with the hahtags #sp #sponso #collab niether with the english terms like #ad or #productreview. Clear terms such “En partenariat avec…” or “sponsorisé par…” must be favored. 

The collaboration must be relieved instantly without specific user action (for example, he must not have to click on a photo or on the comments to understand it is a collaboration). Finally, if the content can be shared, the information about the collaboration must also be shareable.

 

Rule 2, loyalty: ARPP emphasizes that being honest and sincere to the community can only strengthen the ties the influencers have with their community. 

To conclude, l’ARPP recalls that all the rules are applicable to traditional advertising are applicable to influence marketing (like presenting certain habits of consumption in front of a screen or putting forward the power of a vehicle). Especially if, in addition to the order of the content or the service, the advertiser has a “dominating control” and if the content of the influencers is subjected to validation. Consequently, advertising on instagram and influence marketing are also subject to penalties for misleading or deceptive advertising. As a reminder, an advertising is dishonest if its nature is ambiguous or unintelligible. 

The new code of conduct between the brand and the influencers recently adopted by the ARPP are aligned of the possibility to display, in full transparency, the nature of the post made possible by Instagram in February 2017. New information that go along with the rise of influence marketing and clear up the obligation of each party. 

 

For more information, don’t hesitate to visit the website of the ARPP that recently created a video illustrating the right practices around influence marketing.