UK advertising watchdog revamps influencer marketing guidelines to make the rules clearer for influencers, communicators and brands.


The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) and Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have relaunched 'Influencers' guide to making clear that ads are ads’.

Following the Advertising Standards Authority research on ad labelling and feedback on the previous edition, the ASA via the CAP & the CMA have overhauled the guide to offer clear and comprehensive advice on disclosing influencer marketing.  

The rules and advice haven’t changed. However, the message has been given greater clarity. The revamped guide, along with our other resources – including infographics, webinars and articles, can be accessed from

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) issued a statement on Thursday covering the announcement. As co-chair of the CIPR influencer marketing panel, I was asked to provide a quote alongside the statement. 

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) also covered the relaunch with an announcement. I was asked to provide a quote as part of the announcement this time as a council member of the PRCA. 

The public relations industry has lacked a voice around the governance for influencer marketing. It’s a challenging area of practice that sits between marketing and public relations, and earned and paid media.

I am thrilled that both professional bodies promoted the relaunch of these important resources for professional communicators. 

PR is well-placed to lead influencer marketing - a discipline set to be worth £11.5 billion within two years. A key way to demonstrate leadership is through the application of best practice. The newly updated guides will help PR practitioners ensure their clients, peers and the influencers they work with best serve their audiences.

There were more than 16,000 complaints made about 14,000 online ads and social media posts last year according to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) Annual Report 2018.

Key takeaways from the guide

  • Consumers shouldn’t have to click or engage with a social media post to learn that it is an advertisement
  • Using hashtags like #Spon or #Sp to disclose a paid agreement with an influencer is not adequate, and rather, signifiers such as #Ad or #Advert should be used.
  • A commercial agreement between an influencer and brand can be defined beyond a financial payment. The qualification of a ‘payment’ can also include given products, gifts, services, trips, and hotel stays.

Further reading

  1. Influencer Marketing - Key Advice Resources - bookmark this page. From infographics and webinars to Insight articles and an AdviceOnline database - the ASA has a stack of resources on influencer marketing to help communicators and influencers get it right and avoid a run-in with the ASA. 
  2. We’re all influencers now - #FuturePRoof guide to influencer marketing governance for public relations. 
  3. I write regularly about influencer marketing compliance and ethics. You can find more content on via the influencer marketing ethics and compliance landing page.
  4. I wrote about the original guidelines in a story titled: Helping influencer marketers be clear when posts are ads

Scott Guthrie is a professional adviser within the influencer marketing industry. He is an event speaker, university guest lecturer, media commentator on influencer marketing and active blogger. He works with brands, agencies and platforms to achieve meaningful results from influencer marketing. That tells you something about him but it's not giving you a lot of detail, is it? So, read more here.

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