IAB UK updates digital ad guidelines for social media and influencer marketing

The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) UK has just updated its digital advertising guidelines to ensure greater transparency among the industry.

The latest additions have been made to address social media advertising, influencer marketing and self-publishing.

The guide offers advice on practical steps for brands, publishers and advertisers to determine content ads from video, audio and photo social media platforms and apps.

The guidelines were first published back in 2014 and focused on native ads. In 2015, content advertising joined the publication.

“It’s essential when brands are using content and native advertising to reach their audiences that they understand the rules about disclosure, and how to comply with them in practice,” said Christie Dennehy-Neil, Senior Public Policy Manager at the IAB.  “Transparency is vital, not just because it’s required by the advertising rules, but because it is key to audience trust, which is so important for brands and anyone they partner with to create or publish advertising content.”

Among the key content and native advertising updates, the IAB guide suggests that advertisers offer more visual cues, or verbal audio mentions to help consumers immediately identify if they are engaging with marketing content.

Brand logos and other design features for native ad units need to be clear in order to distinguish them from editorial content. Indeed, ad placement, font and description should be easily identifiable as such. To do so, advertisers can design disclosures. All ads should adhere to the CAP code and current legislation.

James Erskine, Director at Social Circle, explains:

“Influencer marketing depends on trust, and disclosure is a key part of helping creators and brands to produce great content that is authentic and that people love. Having clear guidelines like these helps everyone ensure they are being open and transparent with their audiences.”

Native and content ad spend such as sponsorships and ad features reached £563 million in 2017, accounting for 28% of digital ad spend, of which 82% is in-feed.

Richard Reeves, Managing Director at the AOP said:

“We are always supportive when industry standards are reviewed and evolve in-line with changing consumer behaviour and best practice. As the loss of publisher revenue continues to increase due to ad blocking, there has been a growing demand for engaging and interactive ads that don’t disrupt the user experience, which content marketing and native formats can provide. The updated guidelines firmly put the user first, ensuring that publishers and advertisers maintain and continue to strive for a two-way relationship with users built on transparency and trust.”

The IAB guidelines are being supported by ISBA, the Association for Online Publishers (AOP) and the Content Marketing Association (CMA).