UK Instagram influencers face “enforcement action” by ASA over failure to label ads

The UK’s advertising watchdog has threatened “enforcement action” against Instagram influencers who fail to disclose advertising in their posts.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it is considering naming and shaming prominent influencers after it found the number of them sticking to advertising rules was “far below what we would expect”.

In September the ASA examined 122 UK-based influencers on Instagram, the platform which receives the majority of complaints, and found that just 35 per cent were clearly labelling advertising in their posts.

It came as the ASA reported a 55 per cent jump in complaints about influencers in 2020, with 61 per cent of these taking issue with ad disclosure on the platform.

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Under current guidelines influencers must make advertising posts clear to users, usually by using tags like “#ad”, before they interact with the social media post in any way.

The regulatory body said the number of influencers and brands abiding by these rules was “unacceptable” and it was now preparing to reprimand bad actors.

The ASA said that it has now put all the influencers and brands failing to adhere to the rules on notice and was preparing to enlist the help of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to take enforcement action against them if they fail to improve their practices.

While it hasn’t yet listed any of the influencers in breach of advertising rules, it said it was considering naming and shaming them on a page on its website.

“There’s simply no excuse not to make clear to the public when positive messages in posts have been paid-for by a brand,” ASA chief executive Guy Parker said.

“While some influencers have got their houses in order, our monitoring shows how much more there is to do. We’ve given influencers and brands fair warning.

“We’re now targeting our follow-up monitoring and preparing for enforcement action.”

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