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Social media influencers must now say whether their post's an ad or not

If it’s an ad, call it an ad - that’s the warning to social media influencers as strict guidelines come into effect.

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In the past it’s been hard to tell what is and what isn’t an ad. Source: Fair Go

From today (September 14) all online ad content must be easily identifiable as ads on social media sites like Instagram and Tik Tok, from the first point you see the post.

It comes after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint relating to influencer Simone Anderson in July, saying she hadn’t clearly labelled sponsored posts and gifted items on social media.

The ASA’s chief executive Hilary Souter says it’s time influencers were treated like big dogs in advertising – television, radio and print.

“Television and radio you’ve got ad breaks, in print media you’ll see a label like ‘advertorial’ or advertisement’, so this is just the version we’ve put in place for influencers, distinguishing between paid content and organic content,” she says.

“People are entitled to understand what the motivation is behind the message.”

If the post is in breach of the advertising codes, it will either be removed or changed. If that doesn’t sound like a punishment – remember the top-end of influencers in New Zealand are making anywhere between $5,000 and $20,000 a post – so that’s a big bill for marketers and ad agencies.

Most influencers are on board with the new rules, according to Makaia Carr, who boasts over 50,000 followers.

She says the guidelines shifts the power back to consumers, after marketing “started getting shady” with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“You could see people slipping ads into organic content or not being transparent and weren’t reading the room about what’s going on in the country.

“Consumers can educate themselves and ask questions of influencers, is this an ad, this feels misleading... I like that consumers are now out there challenging us in our roles," Carr says.

Seeing as consumers scroll through 90 metres of social media content each day – it’ll pay to do your research on the ASA’s website.