As native advertising on social media platforms like Instagram continues to increase, it’s important that consumers know if something is an ad. Read on for some tips on how to make your picture-perfect Instagram ads clearly identifiable to consumers.

What’s in an ad?

If you’re a blogger or a marketer promoting your brand through a blogger, it’s worth knowing whether your content is an advertorial and needs to be clearly identifiable as such. Check if your content is an advertorial by reading our AdviceOnline article.

If your content is an ad, it should be obviously identifiable to consumers. This will depend on the context - for example, where Instagram posts are clearly on the brand’s own page and refer to their products, it’s likely that consumers will be aware that the content is an ad. If it’s an advertorial, where the content is blended into the blogger’s usual style, bloggers are advised to include a clear and prominent label. The ASA recently Upheld a complaint about a Dylon advertorial on Buzzfeed’s website because it didn’t sufficiently distinguish editorial from advertorial content.

Making it clear

The ASA challenged whether an advertorial in the Telegraph which stated “In association with Michelin” was obviously identifiable as a marketing communication, and was Upheld. As a result, labels such as “sponsored”, “brought to you by” or similar are unlikely to be sufficient identifiers. In the well-known Oreo ruling, the vloggers stated “Thanks to Oreo for making this video possible!” However, the ASA felt that this alone did not make clear that the content was an advertorial. The General Media Panel has suggested that labels such as “paid for ad” or “ad” are likely to be acceptable.

Similarly, with Instagram ads, the commercial nature of the ad should be immediately obvious. The ASA recently Upheld a complaint about a video post on Millie Mackintosh’s Instagram account on the basis that it was not clearly identifiable as an ad. While it included “...More of my #BlendRecommends with @drinkj2o Spritz to come! #sp” in the text, it was held that this did not sufficiently indicate the post was an ad as opposed to a sponsored post with the creator retaining editorial control. For Instagram ads, we would recommend using hashtags such as #ad for avoidance of doubt.

In the case of video advertorials, it’s important to label it correctly and at the right time, depending on whether your video includes product placements, commercial breaks in editorial content, or if the whole thing is an advertorial. In the Millie Mackintosh case, although the video ended with branded shot of the product, the ASA held that consumers needed to be aware that they were viewing an ad prior to engagement. Watch our short and snappy video on how to signpost your videos.

Don’t forget the other things

We know that sometimes bloggers like to run promotions to promote a brand. Even if an ad is obviously identifiable, don’t forget to ensure that your content adheres to other rules in the CAP Code. If you’re running a promotion or including a discount code, make sure significant terms are clear to consumers. Read our advice to help fairly administer your promotions.

Want more guidance? The Copy Advice team can help.

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