Noise on social media, we’ve all seen it. In order to penetrate through the noise and communicate with consumers, brands must pivot their approach from ordinary traditional & digital marketing.
That’s where influencer marketing has grown as of late, particularly in New Zealand. As consumers move their attention online, brands have followed. In 2016 online advertising spend exceeded that of TV advertising spend.
“Once brands were powerful and people were grateful, now people are powerful and brands are grateful”
Kiwi’s are using social media platforms more than ever, and at higher proportions than Australia, the US and the UK including many other countries.
Adhesion shows that of all online Kiwis:
- 81% use Youtube
- 79% use Facebook
- 46% use instagram
This new space has allowed brands to deliver branded content to consumers in authentic ways by using the highly engaged followings of influencers. This begs the question, as consumers, how do we know what is advertising vs. content from a friend?
Change in the NZ Market
The Advertising Standards Authority in New Zealand recently announced that a new code of ethics has been formed around influencer marketing to more clearly inform consumers of the nature of content that they are consuming.
“The ASA Code of Ethics states that all advertising content controlled directly or indirectly by the advertiser should be identified as such, regardless of the medium used to distribute it.”
Additionally, financial payment does not necessarily qualify content as an advertisement. Free product with controlled messaging can also be classified as an advertisement.
Our CEO at The Social Club, Georgia McGillivray, looks forward to the introduction of these standards.
“We are pleased to see the ASA Guidance Note includes guidelines for identifying influencer marketing as well as other forms of advertising. It is a welcome development for influencers, brands and agencies to gain clarity around their responsibilities. We believe these guidelines serve to validate the influencer market in New Zealand and we are excited to implement them as foundational values here at The Social Club.”
What does this mean?
Here are a few scenarios to help brands identify whether their content through influencers is advertising or organic content.
- An instagram makeup influencer receives free samples of a new product and the advertisers message to them is “Hey, here’s a sample of our new product for you to try.”
- The influencer uses the product and uploads a positive post on their instagram feed about their experience.
- This is not likely to be an advertisement as there was no review requested by the advertiser, or any control of the copy.
- The same influencer receives more product for review with content provided by the advertiser. The influencer is able to make additional comments as a part of their review.
- This is likely to be an advertisement as the advertiser has control over the content and requested a review, even though the product was free. It should clearly be identified as such.
- The same influencer is provided with a caption copy and script as well as a payment for a review. The caption includes the brand’s name and a call to action to check out the link.
- This is an advertisement as payment is involved. The call to action and brand name are likely to be obvious and sufficient as identifiers.
How do I maintain authenticity as a brand?
Advertising identifiers can be used in many ways, whether that is integrated into the visuals like the use of a logo, or in the copy such as a brand name.
For example, incorporating the brands name or a hashtag such as #ad #collab, into the caption helps to identify that the content is indeed advertising.
To maintain authenticity it is important that the brand & product fit the values of the influencer and their profile, and vice versa. An example of a non authentic relationship would be if an influencer who publishes a vegan lifestyle was to partner with a burger joint. On the other hand, if an avid runner was to post content wearing a major shoe brand’s apparel, the message would be perceived as authentic as well as reach an engaged audience.
Another important aspect to look at is the ratio of advertisements and non branded content on an influencers page. With a healthy ratio, their audience will remain engaged and not feel bombarded with too many ads.
Since the introduction of similar standards overseas, studies with over 86,000 influencers have found that followers tend to engage more with sponsored content than non-sponsored content across most follower ranges. This shows that authentic and high quality content remain the key for high engagement.
If you’d like to read more, click here to check out the full Guidance Note by the ASA which includes more examples on when advertisements need to be identified.