A UK government body has begun looking in to influencer marketing deals, aiming specifically to crack down on bad disclosure.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is looking into the extent to which influencers are open about commercial relationships and whether people are misled or not.
It has said that posts seemingly promoting a product without explicitly saying if it is a sponsored post, or offering a celebrity’s opinion on the product without revealing if they are paid by the company, have already been noticed.
George Lusty, CMA’s senior director for consumer protection, says because social media influencers have a lot of power over their followers when it comes to promoting products, customers should be informed about brand deals.
“So, it’s really important they are clearly told whether a celebrity is promoting a product because they have bought it themselves, or because they have been paid or thanked in some way by the brand.” Lusty said.
“If the CMA finds practices that break consumer protection law, it can take enforcement action."
The agency is also asking the public for feedback about products they bought as a result of endorsement from a social media star.
The issues surrounding influencer marketing and how to regulate it have been on CMA’s radar for a while, but this is the first step towards actively trying to solve the issues by preventing the problems, rather than just reacting.
The CMA says that those breaking the rules, which have been set by the Committee for Advertising Practice and the Advertising Standards Authority, will be subject to a “heavy reputational price”, but also mention that it is “open to undertaking further enforcement work,” like fines.
A recent survery from Bazaarvoice unveiled that almost half of consumers would like to see stricter ad regulation in place.