ASAI to clamp down on Irish bloggers hiding undeclared adverts

25 Jan 2017

Vlogger showing off new product. Image: SpeedKingz/Shutterstock

Ireland’s highest advertising authority has issued a warning to the country’s most popular bloggers that it must be more transparent about what is paid-for content, in order not to mislead readers.

With traditional advertising quickly falling to the wayside in favour of platforms like YouTube and blogs, the boundary between what is advertising and what is original content has quickly become blurred.

Now Irish bloggers will need to be wary of how they promote new content, following a stark warning issued by the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) that all bloggers and influencers must fully declare any marketing communications.

Identifiable hashtags

Issuing the new guidelines entitled Recognisability of marketing communications, the ASAI has said that from now on, it will be up to both the blogger and the advertiser to make it completely clear that a particular piece of content is classed as marketing.

To do this, the ASAI has taken a cue from social media by encouraging bloggers to use clearly identifiable hashtags – such as #Ad or #SP – to make the reader or viewer aware that it has been paid for.

Whatever identifier is chosen should also be displayed at the beginning of the content and should be clearly visible.

Of particular interest to the advertising authority are advertisers who approach bloggers and influencers to give away free products or review products that put themselves forward as independent, but are actually influenced by the product’s company.

ASAI will monitor blogs

The ASAI has also confirmed that it has now begun a process of monitoring blogs and social media for any instances of rule-breaking surrounding paid-for content, as well as working with the bloggers themselves to tackle the issue.

“The area of influencer marketing has seen a number of in-depth conversations both online and in the media recently, as consumers voice their concerns about bloggers who may or may not be declaring marketing communications,” said the ASAI’s CEO Orla Twomey.

“The new ASAI guidelines aim to address these concerns and develop a uniform set of standards applicable to both companies and the bloggers who deliver the marketing communications.”

Ireland remains a hotbed of blogger activity, with previously highlighting 19 of the biggest stars across multiple platforms.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic