CAP Guidelines – Here’s What You Need to Know

Not long ago, the CAP (the Committee of Advertising Practice) sent us the brand new CAP guidelines and we thought we’d share them with everyone. These guidelines give all stakeholders in influencer marketing campaigns more clarity with regards to how and when you should disclose ads in social media posts.

CAP and the CMA (Competitions and Markets Authority) recently teamed up to produce ‘‘An Influencer’s Guide to making clear that ads are ads’. This includes all of the rules surrounding ads, details about the different types of ad content, updates on the legal requirements for dealing with ads, and tips on how to address any ad-related complaints.

All in all, this simple yet thorough guide will help you to get up to date with all of the latest influencer marketing guidelines. This is, of course, vital for any brands working with influencers. So, we highly recommend reading on to check out our overview of the new guide.


What are the Rules?

There are lots of rules that brands and influencers need to be aware of when it comes to publishing content which includes social media endorsements. But a major rule to be aware of is the CMA’s consumer protection legislation. This states that when a trader pays to use ‘editorial content in the media’ to promote their product, the poster must make this explicitly clear. Words, images or sound can help you to meet these criteria: the medium doesn’t matter. But completely failing to disclose the truth about the payment would be break the law.


CAP guidelines


What Counts as an Ad?

So, what exactly counts as an ad? Well, according to the CAP guidelines, there are three main types of ads.

The first type of ad includes content that is in a paid-for ad space (so any space that is usually reserved for ads). That might include banner ads, paid-for search results, or the ‘sponsored/promoted’ posts found on social media platforms (so – typical influencer marketing content).

But this isn’t the only type of content that might be classed as an ad. In fact, any content talking about the poster’s own brand, product, event or services is also automatically an ad. By the way, that includes any prize draw or giveaway. (These are also classed as ‘promotional marketing’).

There’s also a third type of content that is classed as an ad: affiliate marketing. This might be content that includes a hyperlink or a discount code, as often the poster will receive payment per click-through. It’s useful to note that only the parts of the content that include the affiliate marketing are ads. You therefore only need to disclose these parts of the content of ads. (Obviously, if all of the content involves affiliate marketing, you need to disclose the whole post as an ad accordingly).



What are the Exact Requirements and Recommendations?

The guide is clear regarding the laws surrounding disclosing ads – and what exactly the term ad entails. But that might still leave some people questioning how best to disclose the status of their ads. What are the approved ways of clearly showing that an ad is an ad?

Luckily, the CAP guidelines also make this clear. It states that consumers should be able to instantly recognise a post as an ad, without having to click on anything or interacting with the post in any way.

The CAP guidelines also point out that the context of a post alone doesn’t indicate a post’s ad status, and that consumers shouldn’t be left to wonder whether a post is an ad or not. For this reason, the guide recommends staying away from wishy-washy disclosures like ‘spon’, ‘sp’ and ‘thanks to [x brand] for making this possible’. Instead, the guide advocates using clear labels – like ‘ad’, ‘advertisement’, etc.

The CAP guidelines also recommend that these labels are not buried in a sea of hashtags – but instead clearly visible at the beginning of a post, or even within an image.


How to Deal with Complaints

The guide also offers some handy tips that can support anyone who has to deal with complaints related to influencer marketing ads.

The guide points out that whilst they look into lots of complaints, many don’t require any further action. The ASA will simply dismiss these claims, and you won’t need to worry about them.

In other scenarios, the ASA might simply need to contact the influencers or the brand involved to discuss matters further. Again, this is usually nothing to worry about. Just be honest and helpful by answering all necessary questions.

Occasionally, it will become apparent that there is a problem with the ad. But again, this is something that can be resolved. Just communicate efficiently with the regulators, and comply with any adjustments that are required.

If you need any more help or support in this area, check out the guide’s list of helpful contacts. And keep in mind that there’s always someone you can talk to when you need advice.



Download the Full CAP Guidelines

We hope you found this quick overview of the guidelines useful. Don’t forget to click here to check out the full influencer’s Guide to making clear that ads are ads too.

Download Here


For all the Latest Influencer Marketing News and Insights

To keep up-to-date with the latest influencer marketing news and tips head over to our blog here. Alternatively, get in touch with us at PMYB today. We’d happy to discuss any of these matters in more depth, to help you on your way to creating effective influencer marketing content within the guidelines addressed in this article.


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