Media platforms

Guide to paid promotions issued for social media platforms, brands and influencers

Angelique Bret said: “CMA’s three-pronged strategy to provide clear guidance on consumer protection law compliance involving hidden advertising is a cumulative of the regulator’s review of social media approvals that has been going on for more than four years. It also builds on previous engagements the CMA has pulled from social media platforms and influencers to address consumer protection concerns.

“The CMA has produced practical guidance covering the entire ‘ecosystem’ of social media recommendations, setting out its expectations of what consumer law-compliant ads should look like and the respective responsibilities of the parties. involved in ensuring legal compliance. Highlighting the need for platforms, companies and content creators to proactively tackle hidden advertising, the CMA also signals its willingness to take enforcement action and prosecute alleged breaches of the law. on consumption,” she said.

Tadeusz Gielas said: “Currently the CMA must take legal action to determine a breach of consumer protection law. However, the UK government is proposing to strengthen the consumer protection enforcement powers of the CMA and bring them into line with the much stronger powers the CMA already has to enforce competition law. These new powers would allow the CMA to rule on a breach of the law itself without going to court and impose penalties of up to 10% of the company’s annual worldwide turnover for non-compliance. »

Bret and Gielas also said that the publication of the new guidelines highlights the increasingly close collaboration between the CMA and other UK regulatory authorities concerned with online advertising, including the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) – the body that writes the advertising rules that the ASA oversees. It also recognizes that the digitalization of the economy means that a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency approach may be needed to effectively address emerging issues of consumer protection, competition and other regulatory issues.

The AMC said TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest and Twitch engaged constructively in developing the new guidelines for social media platforms. These guidelines are built around six “compliance principles” which the CMA says are designed to help platforms comply with their “duty to act with professional care” under UK consumer protection regulations. .

Perhaps the most striking principle is the one that encourages platforms to facilitate trademark legal compliance.

The AMC said platforms should “take proactive steps to raise awareness and understanding among brands of your terms of service, policies, and other information related to incentivized recommendations, and encourage brands to verify that content that endorses them is correctly tagged as an advertisement”. The examples provided by the CMA suggest this could involve notifying brands when content has been flagged as suspected hidden advertising or providing features for brands to allow them “to easily review content that mentions their brand. , then to request action if necessary”.

The CMA also expects platforms to inform users of the need to clearly identify incentivized recommendations as advertising and to clearly distinguish them from other content, to ensure that content creators have tools to easily and effectively label content as advertising, as well as enforce their terms and conditions – including enforcing user penalties – for hidden advertising. The regulator has approved the use of technology to prevent hidden ads from appearing and wants platforms to make it easy for users to report suspicious hidden ads.

The CMA’s guide for businesses aims to make brands aware of their responsibilities when it comes to tackling hidden advertising. He said brands must “act with professional diligence” to ensure that content promoting their brand is properly labeled as advertising when it results from their marketing activities and is posted on their behalf.

Brands are urged to make it clear to influencers to whom they pay or send gifts that they must ensure influencers label their posts prominently – and take action where this is not happening, such as asking influencers to remove or edit posts accurately. reflect the business relationship.

The CMA’s guide for content creators and influencers has practical advice on how to clearly label posts to identify them as advertisements. All labels should be clear, visible and easy to understand, and timely – it is not considered sufficient to simply label a brand in a post, use discount codes or affiliate links. Using hashtags #Ad or #Advert is recommended, while others such as #gift, #gifted or #spon are considered ambiguous.

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