Mumbai: The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) launched the Guidelines for Influencer Advertising in Digital Media on 27th May 2021 to ensure transparency of branded promotions on social media by influencers. The guidelines came into effect from the 14th of June, 2021. ASCI has released a report based on monitoring efforts of this guideline in the period July-Dec 2021.
In July 2021, ASCI started suo motu screening of social media platforms as well as handling end-consumer complaints through partnership with Reech. Over a span of six months, ASCI screened about 5000 posts/ stories/ feeds from influencer handles and have completed processing of 719 posts which were considered to be prima facie violations of the guidelines.
Out of the total complaints processed, 21% originated from end consumers, the rest were picked up suo motu through ASCI’s AI based surveillance. Most complaints from end consumers were from Instagram feeds and stories. Out of the 719 posts processed, 577 (80%) influencers voluntarily amended/ withdrew their posts, which according to ASCI is very encouraging.
Out of the remaining 142 complaints, 121 were upheld by ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council and influencers were asked to withdraw or modify their posts. In all, ASCI recommendations received 86% compliance from Influencers.
Ads without disclosures fell predominantly under four categories namely Fashion with 29 percent, Cosmetic with 19 percent followed by Food & Beverage with 13 percent and personal care with 12 percent.
The key violations observed were Absence of disclosures, Inconsistency of disclosure- for example, in Instagram stories, while the first story may have the disclosure, the ones after that did not have a disclosure, and incorrect disclosure placement – the disclosure labels were not placed in a manner that was easily visible to the audience, for example, the viewer had to scroll down / click read more to see the disclosure.