Will ASCI’s New Guidelines Disrupt The Influencer Marketing Space?

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Yesterday, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) released a new set of draft guidelines for social media influencers and called for distinct disclosures when they collaborate with different brands for paid partnerships.

A prominent labelling as sponsored and no use of any filter on sponsored content are the major guidelines that will impact brands as well as influencers.

Now, because of the ASCI’s intervention, while marketers, on one hand, believe things will not change very drastically. On the other, they expect it to lead to a marginal dip in influencer marketing related ad spending.

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Well, Praneesh Bhuvaneswar, founder and CEO of Qoruz – an influencer marketing platform believes that the influencer marketing industry might experience a temporary drop in spends by 10%-15%. This is because there exist many brands out there that perform ‘surrogate marketing’ wherein a piece of content is not revealed or labelled as an advertisement. 

He also mentioned that most of the times the brands who partake in such marketing activities are often ‘immature’ or ones that push fake content. Thus the guidelines will help them mature and spending will go up once again.

Influencer-led content leverages organic awareness or what can rather be called – digital word of mouth. But, now ASCI’s proposed guidelines want to push the same into the world of mainstream advertising – a move which could have a devastating effect in the space of influencer marketing.

While this might sound like a great initiative from the consumer’s perspective. One simply cannot imagine big celebrities or small influencer alike, acknowledging every single commercial endorsement in the multiple pieces of content they produce.

Because influencer marketing, by default, integrally embeds a product/service sponsorship into a piece of content and revealing the same will give consumers the impression the entire video/audio was an ad altogether.

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But, that being said, co-founder and CEO of influencer marketing firm Monk Entertainment – Viraj Seth believes the audience on digital platforms is already smart enough to differentiate between an organic piece of content and paid content. Thus, the ASCI guidelines might only help is further solidifying the differentiation and make it binding under the law.

Lastly, from the perspective of brands, the CEO and founder of influencer marketing company Filter Coffee Anuja Deora said that the guidelines are all set to give brands a hard time. Now, using organic influencers will become a priority and reaching out to a more aware audience will become a tedious job while being equally impactful.

The Advertising Standards Council of India said that the body has created the guidelines in order to make advertisements on digital media more honest and weed out bad actors who use digital platforms to serve misleading advertisements to consumers. It has invited feedback from stakeholders on the guidelines until March 8.

Neither Facebook nor Instagram has been available for a comment regarding the same as of now. YouTube did not respond to an email seeking comments on the ASCI’s guidelines either. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.

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