Influencer advertising and its impact on consumers
This summer the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) issued an exploratory report entitled “Influencer advertising”, which examines the evolution of influencer advertising and marketing. The report highlights the significant growth of this sector over the last decade.
Influencer advertising, also known as influencer marketing, is a digital marketing strategy in which brands collaborate with social media influencers to promote their products or services. This type of advertising has gained popularity due to the authenticity and connection that influencers have with their followers.
However, unlike traditional advertising, which is subject to strict regulations, influencer advertising can be less obvious and is not always identified as such. Companies that use influencers as promoters of their products and brands also enjoy greater flexibility compared to conventional advertising. This allows them to create sales messages that occasionally ignore the regulations and codes established for traditional advertising.
Impact on consumption
The EESC has found that influencers’ recommendations are often perceived by followers as more authentic and credible than traditional advertisements, which can increase trust in a product or service, and they are often at the forefront of trends and lifestyles. Therefore, by promoting certain products, they can create demand and set new consumer trends.
In fact, it is stressed that product reviews and demonstrations by influencers can directly influence consumers’ purchasing decisions.
This situation has led the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU, led by the member of the Council of Consumers and Users, to request an analysis of the weight of influencers in the market.
EESC opinion about influencer advertising
The EESC warns that the lack of transparency of influencers and the companies that hire them to promote their products is dangerous for consumers in general and, in particular, for minors who are constantly on social networks and that it exposes this vulnerable group to surreptitious advertising that could harm their physical, psychological, social or emotional development.
Although the European Union already has certain mechanisms in place to regulate the activity of influencers, the report indicates that a comprehensive approach would be advisable due to the rise of this phenomenon.
According to the author of the report, specific regulation is needed that clearly sets out the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved. This will ensure that both legal actors and consumers are clear about what is acceptable and what is not.
One solution is for the influencer to somehow identify what content is promotional and what is not, specifically to comply with regulations aimed at protecting the health and safety of consumers and users, with special consideration for minors.
Similarly, the report indicates that social media platforms and networks have a responsibility to monitor content posted by creators and influencers. They will have to remove illegal material, report illegal activities and require non-EU creators and influencers to clearly identify their legal representative within the EU. In addition, they will have to have professional insurance to cover possible damages resulting from illegal activities.
With regard to measures to protect minors, the EESC suggests that social media platforms and administrators, in cooperation with influencers, should ensure that minors do not technically have access to sensitive content. Such content should be clearly marked as “prohibited for under 18s”.
Además, se deberá requerir verificación de edad y permitir el uso de controles parentales. De igual manera, los contenidos pagados publicados por influencers tendrán que ser etiquetados como “publicidad” o “patrocinado por”. Las imágenes editadas deberán identificarse como “imagen retocada”, mientras que los productos generados por inteligencia artificial deben ser claramente señalados como “imagen virtual”. In addition, age verification should be required and the use of parental controls should be allowed. Similarly, paid content posted by influencers will have to be labelled as “advertising” or “sponsored by”. Edited images will have to be identified as “retouched image”, while products generated by artificial intelligence must be clearly marked as “virtual image”.
At Letslaw by RSM our team of digital law lawyers, will be happy to help you solve any doubts you may have in this regard..
Letslaw es una firma de abogados internacionales especializada en el derecho de los negocios.