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The fast-paced evolution of technologies and the development of digital platforms have led to new forms of advertising, such as the marketing of products and services through the profiles of social media influencers. The lack of specific regulation in this area has caused multiple unknowns, mainly concerning whether such content should be considered advertising.

Until the Spanish regulator Autocontrol makes or publishes recommendations, we can look to the Best Practice Recommendation on Influencer Marketing published on December 13 by the European Advertising Standards Alliance (“EASA”). EASA acts as the European coordination point for advertising self-regulatory bodies and systems across Europe, publishing best practices and common principles. These recommendations are not formally binding, but try to be highly consistent in the application of advertising self-regulation throughout Europe.

Firstly, EASA refers to situations that should be construed as sponsored content. Influencer marketing can be identified as advertising content if two criteria are met (i) editorial content from sponsoring brands (meaning, for example, proposals on the structure, tone and intended audience of the content), and (ii) remuneration (monetary and in kind) for the influencers for sharing advertising content with their followers. EASA recommends that each country’s self-regulatory bodies regulate content and any exemptions that apply to those two requirements.

Sponsored content must be identified as such instantly and in a way that is plain to the target audience. To that end, EASA has model criteria that self-regulating bodies should consider when offering examples of the requirement to identify the commercial nature of sponsored content:

  • When and where to identify commercial content.
  • The use of specific hashtags to show that a post is an advertisement.
  • The inclusion of comments in the post to correctly identify the nature of the content, such as: “these products have been sent for free to give a review” or “the trip was sponsored by.”
  • EASA establishes that both the influencer and the sponsoring brand must meet these obligations.

This post is also available in: Español



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