Tuesdata: How the sheriffs are slowly taming the influencer Wild West
Welcome to Tuesdata, our weekly members-only analysis of the media and marketing industry.
In today’s edition we look at the sector currently most likely to fall foul of Ad Standards - influencers. Further down we also check in on how the Unmade Index fared on the first day of trading since the Silicon Valley Bank collapse
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Taming the influencer space
Each month, as the Moon reaches its waning gibbous phase, Ad Standards releases a new batch of rulings. I may not have that timing precisely correct, but after more than a decade watching the Ad Standards site, I’m yet to figure out a more scientific explanation.
In recent months, there’s one near certainty when the case reports are released. If there have been complaints upheld, some will be about influencers failing to tell their audiences they are being paid to spruik whatever they’re posting about.
This month is no exception.
As usual, the miscreants are brands you probably haven’t heard of, appearing on the Instagram posts of people you wouldn’t recognise.
“Perth fashion identity” Agatha Wichert posted an Instagram reel featuring herself dressed in various outfits from clothing brand Shona Joy, accompanied by the modest question “Which one do you love the most?”
And the other was a post from Abby Gilmore, subtly featuring mattress brand Emma.
Gilmore’s social influencer career, such that it is, stems from being the ex-partner of an AFL player. Her randomly capitalised profile on the website of a Melbourne influencer management agency sums up the life of a lower tier social media influencer.
Ad Standards ruled against both brands for the same reason. The advertising code says that advertising and marketing communications should be clear that that’s what they are. Simply tagging the brand doesn’t do the job.
The challenge for the marketing industry, which relies on making self-regulation work to fend off further regulatory oversight, is that small brands and influencers can simply choose to ignore its oversight.
But an increasing number, even of those being investigated, are accepting the authority of Ad Standards and engaging with the regulator. In both of the most recent cases, the brands participated in the process and said the posts would be taken down.
Ever so slowly, the wild west is being tamed.
Henry Tajer, CEO of The Influence Group, weighed in yesterday.