Ad Standards (the self-regulatory body for Canada’s advertising industry) recently released their Fall 2023 update to their Influencer Marketing Disclosure Guidelines. These Guidelines were initially released in 2018 and previously updated back in Fall 2020.
A copy of the 2023 Influencer Disclosure Guidelines can be found here.
Although the general substance of the Guidelines largely remain the same, in the most recent update, there are a few noteworthy changes. For example:
- The “Affiliate Marketing” section has been revised to clarify that using ‘#Ad’ may not be appropriate where an affiliate link is provided, and hashtags like ‘#CompanyPartner’ would be clearer.
- Instead of providing examples and best practices for disclosure based on specific popular social media platforms (i.e., TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter), the updated Guidelines provide specific examples and best practices for disclosure based on post type (i.e., static posts, character-limited posts, video posts, stories, blogs) with the stated goal to allow best practices to be more easily applied to emerging and new social media platforms as they arise.
Further, specific examples and best practices for the disclosure of Gifted Products as well as Events and Experiences were added to the Guidelines.
In the “Do I Need to Disclose?” section:
- Two examples related to the use of “Avatars” were added. In particular, if a company is paying to have an avatar influencer endorse their product, then disclosure is required, but if a company uses its own avatar on its own social media pages, then disclosure is not required.
- The “Gifted product” example has been revised to say that if an influencer posts about a gifted product, they need to disclose that the product is a gift even if it is not an endorsement.
- Although the example and guidance related to “Replies or direct messages to a ‘follower’” remains the same, the green circle checkmark symbol (representing a need for disclosure) has been replaced with a red circle X symbol (representing no need for disclosure).
- The “Code exception” example has now been renamed as “well-known partnerships”, and although the associated guidance remains the same, the red circle X symbol (representing no need for disclosure) has been replaced with a yellow circle exclamation symbol (representing “it depends” for disclosure).
Other changes include:
- In the Definitions section, the term “Endorser” has been added to be used interchangeably with the term “Influencer”.
- The “Do’s and Don’ts of Disclosure” section was updated to re-organize and better clarify some previous tips and explanations, such as in the context of gifted products and exclusive event invitations. Further, a tip to not use misspelled versions of disclosure (e.g., misspelled brand name hashtags) was added to the section.