Online influencers issued new guidelines for branded content

Zoe Sugg, also known as Zoella, the fashion and beauty vlogger
Zoe Sugg, also known as Zoella, the fashion and beauty vlogger

YouTube vloggers and other digital influencers must disclose all paid-for relationships clearly in any content they post, according to new international guidelines.

The International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network has today published three sets of guidelines on online reviews and endorsements.

It comes after research revealed earlier this month that marketing professionals are more likely to use social media influencers, such as Zoella (above), than more traditional celebrities in campaigns.

One of the areas of focus are "digital influencers", who Icpen said must be guided by three principles:

1)   Disclose clearly and prominently whether content has been paid for;

2)   Be open about other commercial relationships that might be relevant to the content; and

3)   Give genuine views on markets, businesses, good or services.

In separate guidelines for traders and marketers, there is a clear instruction not to "write, commission, or publish fake reviews". This includes instructing employees, family or friends to write a positive review about their business, or a negative review about a rival.

Review administrators must also be equal and fair in the collection of reviews, as well as be transparent in how they are published.

The network of consumer protection authorities from nearly 60 countries said the guidelines provide "simple dos and don’ts" for review sites, traders and online influencers (bloggers and vloggers).

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, which has presided over Icpen in a one-year presidency for the last 12 months, will hand over the presidency to its German counterpart tomorrow (1 July).

Nisha Arora, the president of Icpen and senior director at the CMA, said: "It’s more important than ever that consumer protection agencies work together to tackle common problems and ensure that businesses, wherever they are based, deal with consumers fairly.

"The guidelines on online reviews and endorsements that we have published today send a common message from consumer agencies across the world to businesses, wherever they are located. This is just one example of how Icpen is bringing enforcers together to protect consumers worldwide."


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