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Working with bloggers, sponsorship, advertising and ASA guidelines – What you need to know

The media atmosphere has adapted to many changes that have come its way in recent years. Print media is in decline and relationships with bloggers, vloggers and influencers are on the up.

As with anything new, there are uncertainties and grey areas that need to be worked on from the start and the guidelines around advertising, sponsorship and working with influencers is one of them. The Advertising Standards Agency and Committees of Advertising Practice have produced a number of guidelines to demonstrate when advertising rules apply to blogs and vlogs which we have outlined below.

Content needs to be transparent

A blogger, vlogger or brand should never be afraid to declare that there is a commercial agreement in place when working together. The golden rule the ASA has outlined is that all content generated needs to be transparent so that the audience is not misled in any way.

Do you want control of the content?

If as a marketer you have control over the vlogger or bloggers content and it has been produced in exchange for payment, then it is an advertorial. Payment may not necessarily be monetary, free items count too. An advertorial is often produced in the usual style of the vlogger/blogger so from the outset it may not be clear to the audience that this is a paid for feature. In this case the content needs to be labelled appropriately and viewers need to be aware it is an advertorial before engaging.

Sponsoring content that is created by a vlogger or blogger

If you are happy to relinquish control with a piece of sponsored content then this doesn’t have to be labelled as an advertisement. This is because as a brand you have not had any input in the final product, although it will be expected that the vlogger discloses the nature of their relationship with you/your client so that the audience are aware who sponsored the video.

Where do free items come into this?

As with sponsorship if you send an influencer something for free without any conditions or content control then this also doesn’t have to be labelled as an advertisement. This is because the blogger or vlogger is not under any agreement to include the item at all. If an influencer does accept something on the condition that it is to be reviewed, in a positive or negative way, it would be expected that the vlogger discloses the nature of the relationship.

Labelling is the responsibility for both parties

It is the responsibility for both Marketers and the content creators to make clear that something is an advert. Both parties should be open with each other and discuss in what way it will be made clear to the audience that a piece of content has been paid for. Labelling a piece of content can be done in a number of ASA approved ways, a video blog should include ‘AD, Advertorial, Advertising feature’ or something similar within the main title and a disclaimer in the description box for good measure.

Useful links:

This video produced by the Commitees of Advertising Practice is well worth a watch to clarify further:

Vlogging advertising guidance by the Advertising Standards Agency
Committees of Advertising Practice: Potential vlogging scenarios

If you have any questions about working with bloggers and vloggers or want to discuss how blogger outreach could work for you, get in touch with me, Sophie, at sophiep@thissrl.co.uk

Author:

Sophie Polak.

PR Account Manager