UK Advertising Industry Enquiry

Not too long ago, The House of Lords published the findings from its inquest into the future of the UK advertising industry. The outcome? Not so surprisingly, there were suggestions for greater digital marketing regulation. The Committee recommends that the industry should take greater steps to self-regulate through independent bodies such as the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards (JICWS). 

Despite this, the findings also confirmed a thriving industry; “the UK is a global hub for advertising which added £120 billion to the UK’s economy and supported over 1 million jobs in 2016”.

UK advertising industry

The series of recommendations outlined challenges facing the advertising industry. These include Brexit, the use of personal data and Facebook and Google’s monopoly amongst more. Here are three top that arose from the inquiry which could impact Influencer Marketing…


Post-Brexit Immigration

International workers and more specifically international influencers are an integral part of the UK advertising industry. PewDiePie is a prime example of this. He moved from Sweden to the UK in 2013 and despite the controversy has become one of the biggest names on YouTube with a whopping 62 Million subscribers.

London, more specifically, is a major hub for influencers and international clients alike. More than 75% of the UK ad industry work with companies overseas. The report invites the government to develop a system that is easier and cheaper to navigate for businesses and individuals. This would encompass foreign nationals working in the UK following an offer of permanent employment by an advertising employer.

It has also been suggested that the Government should also introduce a creative industries’ freelancer visa. This could see benefits for influencers looking to move to the UK and encourage those who may not have considered doing so.


Ad Fraud/Misplacement

One of the most topical issues facing Influencer Marketing is that of ad fraud and disclosure; this was amongst the House of Lords suggestions for improving the future of the industry.

The Committee came to the conclusion that the carelessness and lack of transparency in advertising on the internet led to ads had been displayed next to inappropriate and illegal content. In addition, according to one estimate, over $16 billion spent on digital advertising was stolen through ad fraud in 2017.

The inquest suggested that in a bid to tackle such issues, the whole industry should strive to better self-regulate. The hope is for this to be implemented through such independent bodies as the JICWS.


Universal Logo for Social Influencers

Another way of tackling the transparency issues was suggested in the report. This is for the ASA to create a standardised logo for all social media influencers to use on sponsored posts. Ad disclosure has been a problem in the industry for some time now with varying ways of disclosing a paid brand partnership. Instagram has its ‘Paid Partnership’ feature but is only available for business accounts. Similarly, Facebook has a ‘Paid Branded Tag’, but again with some confusion surrounding who can and can’t use it.

A universal logo would also help reduce the confusion around which hashtags are acceptable to use from the ASA’s point of view. The most popular hashtag used to disclose branded relationships is #AD, however, others have surfaced such as #SP or #SPON.  The ASA has stated that only #AD is an acceptable way if disclosing the relationship, yet variations are still prevalent within the industry.

A universal logo could, therefore, be the answer to an industry standard for branded partnerships. This would be recognised across all platforms and all content. Discussions surrounding this have been ongoing. However, the reports have clearly suggested that the ASA should take action on this in the coming months.

The Influencer Marketing industry is no doubt in a state of flux. As to what extent the report will impact Influencer Marketing, is not yet entirely clear.


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