Social media influencers could be about to face a bigger shakeup in how they advertise products across their channels with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) launching an investigation into it. 

The ASA is looking into whether or not the average social media user can tell if a post or video is an advert. In 2014, the ASA introduced new rules which forced social media stars and YouTubers to include #ad in posts, video titles and thumbnails. 

However, a number of influencers have found loopholes. Some YouTubers have been found to place the word "AD" in the corner of the thumbnail, meaning it becomes obscured by the video time. Others influencers have opted for the process of "astroturfing", where an ad is disguised as a regular, informative, post. For instance, some have used a Twitter thread telling the story of how they got a great body in order to advertise diet pills. 

“Social influencer and native advertising might be relatively new but the advertising rules haven’t changed – people shouldn’t have to play the detective to work out if they’re being advertised to,” said ASA's chief executive Guy Parker. “That means the status of a tweet, blog, vlog, Instagram post or story should be clear.”


By Jonathan Davies, editor, Digital Marketing Magazine

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