Pressure increases to regulate social media influencers violating advertising codes

Today the Dutch Advertising Code Foundation (Stichting Reclame Code/SRC) launched a campaign to sharpen regulations on Dutch social media influencers. A report from Financieele Dagblad found that many influencers currently violate marketing regulations by failing to disclose whether or not they receive compensation for the products and services they feature on their social media channels.

FD investigated dozens of well-known Dutch social media influencers like Anna Nooshin, who has over 881,000 followers on Instagram and over 285,000 YouTube subscribers. Nooshin’s social media depicts the influencer with name brands like Chanel, Milky Way chocolates, and XIV Karats jewelry but does not state whether or not she received compensation for her endorsements. FD also reported that Nooshin accepted a free flight from the travel company Corendon but she did not disclose this benefit when she named the company on her social media.

According to FD, clarity in advertising is especially important to child consumers who are most vulnerable to social media marketing and unlikely to recognize when an influencer is advertising. One government survey found that half of the children studied in primary school are influenced by vlog product placement and “one in six children even say that this happens very often.”

This lack of transparency in social media advertising is not illegal as current regulations only apply to traditional media however it does violate the SRC’s Social Media and Influencer Marketing Code which stipulates influencers should clearly state sponsorship deals in the video or at the top of the video description. Under current regulations, the SRC can only address an influencer marketing violation in response to a complaint and their heaviest legal course of action consists of issuing a reprimand to the offender.

The campaign ‘#Ad Herken de reclame op internet’ which was launched today promotes transparency in influencer marketing by seeking to ban illegal advertising on Youtube but its regulations do not extend to Instagram. The developing campaign strives to hold influencers accountable by enabling the media authority to issue fines for noncompliance.


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