New campaign calls on influencers to be honest about advertising
Vlogers should be more open about paid content and product placement
It must become clearer when influencers advertise on social media. Now it is often the case that this is not clear to the viewer. Advertising Code Foundation is calling on influencers with a new marketing campaign to be open about advertising. There is no legislation on this subject yet, but will follow next year.
Those who have many followers on social media are regularly approached by brands to enter into a partnership. In this way an influencer can earn money, get a product or go on holiday for free by, for example, calling a travel agency. Millions of euros go around here every year in the Dutch influencer market.
It is not always clear to viewers that advertising is when someone mentions a brand or product. Such illegal advertising is not prohibited, but it is seen as socially undesirable. The Advertising Code Foundation does not only want to put an end to this, but also to inform influencers and advertisers about what they should do.
Consumer legislation now stipulates that advertising must be recognizable, but what that means exactly is not always clear. For example, if a youtuber or well-known Dutch person recommends wearing a new pair of sunglasses in a video, and not in the video but in the description states that it is an advertisement, then that is allowed by law.
“But many viewers viewers don’t get that”, says a spokesperson. Previous research has shown that children in particular find it difficult to recognize advertisements. “That is why we provide practical examples of how things can be improved.”
The Advertising Code Foundation therefore calls for advertising to be recognized. If an influencer is reimbursed, this must be clearly stated. The foundation also recommends adding a phrase such as “This video contains advertisements for [advertiser name]”.
To dispel viewers’ doubts, there was already a group of youtubers in 2017 who drafted and signed the Social Code on their own initiative. NOS op 3 checked in hundreds of videos of those 31 youtubers whether the code was mentioned. Conclusion: some of them mentioned the code, but the majority did so sporadically or not at all. That showed how difficult it is to draw up rules that everyone follows.
Because this remains difficult, a new media law is being worked out, of which influencer marketing is a part. This will take effect on 1 September 2020. Sluik advertising is thus prohibited on social media such as YouTube and Instagram. From that moment onwards, the Media Authority can also impose fines on offenders. Now the highest punishment is still a reprimand. Because the law is still being worked on, it is not clear exactly what influencers must comply with from that moment on.
“We are in favor of this legislation being introduced”, says Edgar van de Pas of the Media Authority. “But that does not alter the fact that we also support the rules that youtubers set up ourselves two years ago. We will continue to discuss this topic with them.”