The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) said that as digital media becomes 'increasingly pervasive' and more consumers start to consume advertising on various digital platforms, it has become important to understand the peculiarities of the advertisements and the way consumers view them.
“Consumers may view promotional messages without realising the commercial intent of these, and that becomes inherently misleading, and in violation of clause 1.4 (misleading by omission) and 1.5 (abuse trust of consumers or exploit their lack of experience or knowledge)," ASCI said.
It has also become necessary to update the definition of certain terms as they relate to advertising regulations and guidelines in the changed scenario.
Kunal Kishore Sinha, co-founder of influencer marketing platform ClanConnect, said ASCI's decision to introduce guidelines for influencers and the influencer marketing community shows that the market has evolved and assumed mainstream stature in the larger advertising space.
“These guidelines will not only streamline the space and offer a direction but also ensure that there is an added sense of social responsibility among the influencer community,” Sinha added.
Stating that an average consumer should be able to recognise that something is an advertisement without having to click or otherwise interact with it, ASCI said the influencers need to make disclosures upfront in the first two lines on any platform through hashtags such as ad, collab, promo, sponsored and partnership.
“No other labels may be used as consumers may not be familiar with short forms or other words to connote advertisements. This list will be periodically reviewed to add any new labels that become popular or recognised by an average consumer as a way to connote promotional communication," ASCI said.
Nothing to Hide
The disclosure label must be in English or translated into the language of the advertisement in a way that it is well understood by the average consumer, said the guidelines.
If the advertisement is only a picture post on Instagram stories or Snapchat, for instance, the label needs to be superimposed over the picture and it should be ensured that the average consumer is able to see it clearly.
In the case of video not accompanied by a text post, the disclosure label should be superimposed on the video in a manner easily visible to the viewer. For videos that last 15 seconds or lesser, the disclosure label must stay for a minimum of 2 seconds. For videos longer than 15 seconds, but less than 2 minutes, the disclosure label should stay for 1/3rd the length of the video.
For videos that are 2 minutes or longer, the disclosure label must stay for the entire duration of the section in which the promoted brand or its features, benefits etc are mentioned. In live streams, the disclosure label should be placed periodically, for 5 seconds at the end of every minute so that users who see part of the stream can see the disclosure.