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Tuesday, 26 February 2019

NEW ASA GUIDELINES - WHAT BLOGGERS NEED TO KNOW


Back in September of last year, the ASA issued this document called 'An Influencer's Guide to Making Clear that Ads are Ads'. It's only become a thing on social media over the past month or so because a number of high profile celebrities were called out for lack of disclosure but it's a case of better late than never as there is much uncertainty out there around influencer content and how exactly it should be represented to readers.


Today, I'm going to do a bit of an deep-dive into what these changes mean for us bloggers and influencers, what we need to be aware of and how we can ensure we're following them, as well as going a little into the background of why these guidelines have been put in place. I hope this is useful and if you have any other questions or concerns - please do let me know in the comments.

So it's all about making it absolutely clear to readers if a brand is driving content, either through payment or gifting or both. It also covers the usage of affiliate links, where the brand knows if a sale has come to them via an influencer and will pay said influencer a commission (typically 3-5%) through a third party, if the customer keeps that item.

Up until this, almost all bloggers would have used the word AD to indicate that a piece of content was being paid for. If an item had been gifted however, the guidelines were not clear about using the word AD. Nor was it clear in the case of affiliate links. It was always just good practice and fair disclosure to indicate gifting and affiliate links and most bloggers did this using words at the foot of the post or in the body of the text.

The guidelines aim to create a clear and consistent approach so it is clear when influencers are working with brands and on what basis. This means that consumers will know what to look for and will be informed right off the bat if they're consuming content that is a brand promotion or sponsorship. As many of us like to incorporate brand content seamlessly into non-branded content so it feels authentic to us, this makes it even more important to be clear on when consumers are being advertised to.


So what should you do? Well step one is to update or create a disclosure page for your blog, which allows you the space to explain the guidelines and how you will be complying with them. I personally also link this at the bottom of my posts that contain gifted items or contain paid-for content - it just directs people to more information without having to put paragraphs of text under each post! Even my own disclosure page needs work - I want to make everything clear and cover off any concerns or questions readers may have, but I'm not sure if my desire to address everything makes it messy and difficult to digest... It's definitely something I plan on revisiting regularly to ensure it's as clear and concise as possible.
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