Does that product really work? Are they being paid to say that? Is that a genuine consumer review? As brands increasingly turn to bloggers, vloggers and influencers to market their products in the race for greater brand visibility, the line between unbiased third-party opinions and paid-for endorsements continues to fade.
Reflecting the fundamental “truth in advertising” principles embedded in the laws of each of its 60 member countries, the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Networkhas published three (3) guidance documents for review administrators (Guide 1), traders and marketing professionals (Guide 2) and digital influencers (Guide 3).
These materials are intended to provide clear principles and guidelines with respect to the online activities of digital influencers, brands and reviewers.
- The first guide is intended for organizations and individuals that process consumer reviews and speaks to transparency in review publications and the principles of fairness and equality in collecting and moderating reviews.
- Guide 2 is intended for businesses, brands and marketing professionals, including search engine optimizers that seek to promote their clients’ goods and services online. The guide addresses the issues of soliciting consumer reviews, false reviews and the giving of clear instructions to intermediaries and publishers.
- The third Guide provides guidance for digital influencers, such as bloggers, vloggers, tweeters and those who post online content. The key principles addressed in the guide are the clear and prominent disclosure of paid-for content, the disclosure of commercial relationships between the digital influencer and the brand/business, and the requirement to provide his/her genuine views and opinions on markets, businesses and goods and services.