Marketers not expecting a drastic change in influencer ad spends with new ASCI draft guidelines

Advertising spends on influencer marketing have been going up news24nationificantly on social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and Facebook and with the new draft guidelines from Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) aiming at clearer disclosures on paid partnerships, both influencers and marketers are finding themselves at crossroads.
Marketers expect a marginal drop in ad spends as a result of the guidelines coming into force, but said things may not change drastically.

“Spends may get impacted temporarily by about 10-15%. There are certain brands that do surrogate marketing without revealing it’s an ad. That happens with immature brands or those trying to push fake content. But, people will mature beyond that after the guidelines and spends will go up again,” said Praanesh Bhuvaneswar, founder and CEO of influencer marketing platform Qoruz.

Bhuvaneswar said spending on influencers by brands had been going up news24nationificantly as producing content with agencies and then putting ad budgets to promote it doesn’t seem so appealing to a lot of brands post Covid. They are preferring getting the desired reach and content from influencers at a fraction of the cost.

“Quite a lot of mainstream agencies are also setting up influencer strategy and execution teams in house,” he added.

Amit Tripathi, MD at IdeateLabs, an independent digital-first agency said the guidelines will impact the monetisation that influencers can make from their digital footprint.

“Can you imagine Amitabh Bachchan or Shahrukh Khan acknowledging that this is a sponsored post? They endorse brands just as others do. But now with these guidelines small or big, everyone will have to acknowledge the commercial side to the influencer clout. Hence while this is great news from a consumer point of view, but not so much from an influencer point,” he said.
ASCI released draft guidelines for influencer advertising on digital media on Monday, calling for more upfront disclosures on paid collaborations by influencers besides issuing some ‘ready reckoners’ for social media platforms on how disclosures need to be displayed.

The body said it has created the guidelines so that advertisements on digital media are honest and don’t violate ASCI’s chapter 1 on misleading advertisements. It has invited stakeholder feedback on the guidelines till March 8 and the final guidelines will be published by March 31. ASCI said the guidelines will be applicable to all promotional posts published on or after April 15, and that it will issue a notice to both brand owners and influencers for violation of any guideline in the case of a consumer complaint or suo motu cognisance of a potentially objectionable advertisement.

Facebook and Instagram declined to comment on the matter. YouTube did not respond to an email seeking comments.

Viraj Sheth, co-founder and CEO, Monk Entertainment said the ASCI guidelines will not bring about a drastic change in spends on influencer marketing and the strategies may not change too much. “The audiences have always been smart enough to differentiate between an organic piece of content and a paid partnership with a brand. These guidelines will only push for this differentiation to be made more official and binding,” Sheth added.

Anuja Deora Sanctis, founder and CEO, Filter Coffee, which handles influencer marketing for brands such as Clinique India, and L’Oréal Professional said using organic influencers will now be a priority for brands and also a challenge because filtering out organicinfluencers to gain decent traction and reaching out to a more aware audience will become tedious but ever impactful.

Influencer Sanjyot Keer, chef and founder of the YouTube channel Your Food Lab, which has about 1.94 million news24nationrs said even before ASCI draft guidelines, major platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube already had norms in place to identify branded content so the announcement does not change the labeling process of branded content as such. “There are ‘paid partnership’, ‘branded content’ and ‘includes paid promotion’ tags on the platforms respectively. We use these tags whenever we are running a branded content campaign… if on other platforms such a system is not in place, the platforms should be advised to do so to regulate the usage of the tags/labels and not the content creator. Different rules for different content types and platforms would be very difficult to follow and even difficult to regulate,” he added.

Digital content creator Nikunj Lotia, founder of the YouTube channel Be YouNick, which has 4.29 million news24nationrs called the guidelines a ‘welcome change’ but said brands are often involved in specific parts of the content instead of the content at its entirety. “It can get confusing and misleading for the audience there. For example, If I was wearing a jacket bartered with a brand on my road trip where I perform, my performance isn’t really a brand partnership,” he added.