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Are you an influencer? You'll have to start labeling promotional posts from June 14

Advertising body issues guidelines for influencers to ensure transparency

Instagram-Reels-short-videos A screenshot of the UI of Instagram Reels | Representational image

India's apex advertising body, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has said starting June 14, it will be mandatory for influencers to label their promotional posts to ensure transparency and safeguard the interests of consumers. The self-governing body issued final guidelines for influencer marketing on Thursday, roughly three months after sharing draft guidelines. 

The fresh norms mandate that influencers must label branded posts if there’s a material connection between them and the advertisers, failing which, both parties shall be held accountable. The disclosure must be upfront and prominent so that it is not missed by an average consumer.

These guidelines are applicable for content across blogs, apps, websites, social media platforms, video streaming platforms and digital terrestrial television, among others.

Here are the major takeaways from the guidelines released by ASCI: 

Who is an influencer?

An influencer is someone who has access to an audience and the power to affect their audiences’  purchasing decisions or opinions about a product, service, brand or experience, because of the influencer’s authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their audience.

Virtual influencers, are fictional computer generated ‘people’ or avatars who have the realistic characteristics, features and personalities of humans, and behave in a similar manner as influencers.

What is material connection?

A material connection is any connection between an advertiser and influencer that may affect the weight or credibility of the representation made by the influencer. Material connection could include but is not limited to benefits and incentives such as monetary or other compensation, free products with or without any conditions attached, including those received unsolicited, discounts, gifts, contest and sweepstakes entries, trips or hotel stays, media barters, coverage, awards or any family or employment relationship, etc.


Disclosure is required if there is any material connection between the advertiser and the influencer. The material connection is not limited to monetary compensation. Disclosure is required if there is anything of value given to mention or talk about the advertiser’s product or service. For example, if the advertiser or its agents give free or discounted products or service or other perks and then the influencer mentions one of its products or services, a disclosure is needed even if they weren’t specifically asked to talk about that product or service.

Disclosures are required even if the evaluations are unbiased or fully originated by Influencer, so long as there is a material connection between advertiser and influencer.

However, if there is no material connection and the influencer is telling people about a product or service they bought and happen to like, that is not considered to be an advertisement and no disclosure is required on such posts.

Disclosures must be upfront and should not be placed in a manner that is hard to miss such as burried in in a group of hashtags or links. Using a platform’s disclosure tool should be considered in addition to an influencer’s own disclosure.

Read the detailed guidelines here

ASCI has informed that it has partnered with a French technology provider, Reech, which will use artificial intelligence (AI) to scan digital content to actively monitor social media platforms for defaulters. “The Reech Influence Cloud platform uses AI to identify lack of disclosure on posts of a commercial nature on social media," said Manisha Kapoor, secretary-general, ASCI.

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