As influencer marketing matures and budgets continue to rise, so does the need to safeguard the integrity and effectiveness of campaigns in order to maintain consumer trust and authenticity – values at the heart of influencer marketing.

This has been reflected over recent months by a series of industry actions calling for much needed governance to be implemented.

Following Unilever CMO Keith Weed’s call to get rid of the “few bad apples spoiling the barrel” and the CMA’s influencer investigation; September saw the launch of The Influencer’s Guide, a new set of guidelines on advertising disclosure by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP).

Influencer marketing guidelines are not a new notion for CAP, which provided rules for influencers and brands in 2017, detailing best practice for working on affiliate marketing campaigns with influencers.

The difference with The Influencer’s Guide is that it puts the onus on influencers themselves rather than the brands commissioning them, which feels problematic. Responsibility cannot lie solely with influencers. It is brands’ responsibility to exercise due diligence, so accountability must lie with both brand and content creator.

More clarity needed

Despite a disclosure framework being in place for 18 months, the current guideline’s lack of clarity and relevance to influencer marketing has prevented full transparency coming to fruition.

Instead, 2018 has seen highly-publicised examples of misconduct being demonstrated by the likes of reality-star influencers such as Geordie Shore’s Marnie Simpson and Made in Chelsea’s Louise Thompson who both had posts banned by the ASA due to insufficient advertising disclosure.

Whether these misdemeanours are the result of ignorance or rule-flouting, such controversies will tarnish influencer marketing’s reputation and could be avoided with clear and relevant guidelines that are simple to understand and impossible to avoid.

This latest attempt appears to be a less jargon-filled version of existing guidelines, which fail to provide further clarification. The need for a flowchart (provided within the guide) to determine whether…