Have you noticed a sharp increase in the number of posts on your IG feed tagged with ‘AD’ at the beginning of the caption? While it may look like everyone and their cat are suddenly working with dozens of brands overnight, in truth not much has *actually* changed. There has been a change in legislation and it’s safe to say these changes rocked the blogosphere last week – I wish I was being dramatic but it’s literally all I saw on my Twitter feed for days! I’m a huge advocate of being genuine and transparent, so I wanted to discuss these changes, how I will be disclosing my collaborations and what it all means.
The regulations from the CMA
So ICYMI, the CMA (Competitions and Markets Authority) released some new guidelines which detail how content creators should disclose paid-for partnerships, gifts, campaigns, affiliate links and everything in between. Want the Cliff Notes version? They are essentially aiming for maximum transparency for any and all compensation for a post/mention and the guidelines are MUCH stricter than ever. The term “compensation” is pretty broad now, previously it referred to paid collaborations but the CMA want products which are gifted and loaned to be included…even though we’re not paying our photographers, hosting fees or bills with a bottle of gifted perfume 😉
As a summary of the above documents, it’s important to note the following points:
- You must disclose when you’ve been paid…and gifted or loaned an item. This counts as ‘payment’ or an incentive to post about it.
- Discounts, competitions and giveaways must be disclosed to make it implicitly clear that this is a partnership.
- You must also disclose your own products, e.g. books, events etc.
- If you have been paid or been gifted or loaned by a company in the past and you go on to purchase something yourself, you must disclose this relationship for a ‘reasonable period of time’
The disclosure should also appear before a person consumes that piece of content, so at the front of the title or caption rather than buried at the end or a long list of hashtags.
The reaction from the blogosphere
The general consensus from content creators is that the guidelines are very heavy-handed. The main point of contention is the last point, disclosing paid, gifted or loaned collaborations for up to a year. Essentially it means that if a content creator works with a brand once, they will need to continue disclosing this for the next 12 months. The result is that
pretty much every post will need to be identified as an ‘AD’ from now on. The issue with this isn’t the transparency, it’s how our content will now be perceived. The fear is that our community and followers will question how genuine our content is.
I’m very selective and only partner with a brand I genuinely love them, so it stands to rights that I will continue to wear it/use it beyond the initial collaboration or campaign. So, while I won’t work with a coffee brand as I don’t drink coffee I *will* continue to wear pieces I’ve been gifted for well over a year. I understand the controversy, but I have to say, a week into this new, stricter world and..I like it. I’ve been super careful and scrutinising each picture before I post it and though the majority are now identified as an ‘AD’, I really welcome the implicit transparency – readers and consumers need to know if a post was incentivised in some way.
How to disclose your partnerships
So, going forward you’re likely to see a lot of different types of disclosure online and I want to be upfront about how I’m going to be disclosing my partnerships.
On Instagram, you’ll see posts marked as:
- “AD – paid”. This is for a paid campaign or collaboration. I’ll include the exact details at the end of the post.
- “AD – gifted”. This is for a post which contains a product which has been gifted within the last 12 months. I’ll include details at the end of the post.
On the blog, you’ll see:
- Posts with “AD” in the title. This is for posts which are a paid collaboration with a brand. Details of the collaboration will be in the post.
- Posts with “Gifted” in the title. This is for posts which contain gifted items within the last 12 months.
- “Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links which are marked with a *” at the beginning of a post which contains affiliate links. I will mark products which have affiliate links with a * and also include the disclosure underneath the list of products.
I hope that makes things clearer. Have you noticed an increase in the number of sponsored posts on Insta? And what do you think of the new guidelines?
Photography by Kylie Eyra Photography.