- Policy


How is advertising within social media regulated?

Social media marketing falls within the self-regulatory UK CAP Code that is enforced by the regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) extended its remit to include non-paid for space. This includes both advertising that is paid for and advertising in non-paid for space, as well as earned media that is used for the purposes of the brand, is within the ASA’s remit. For example, a brand’s own profile on a social networking site that is owned and managed by the brand would be covered by the CAP Code and the ASA. 

There have been a number of rulings by the ASA on this matter and marketers should have regard to CAP’s guidance on disclosure in marketing blogs and vlogs.

The Competition and Markets Authority also regulates this piece of legislation and can prosecute or fine companies that fail to comply with the law. It has produced guidance to help marketers understand how the legislation applies to paid-for promotions and the need for clear disclosure if a publisher or content creator is paid to feature a product. The CMA has published an open letter to publishers and bloggers and to marketers setting out what is required, as well as for businesses commissioning paid-for endorsements.

Marketers should also note the terms and conditions of individual social media platforms.

What are the key regulatory concerns for marketing in Social Media?

The ability to hold a dialogue with consumers, particularly those who have expressed an interest in a brand’s service or product, is of key interest to marketers. However there are concerns that marketing communications are not always easily identifiable as such, and therefore consumers could be misled.

As with other forms of marketing, advertising within social media, is governed by industry self-regulatory codes and statutory legislation.

There are also concerns from policy makers related to the exposure of inappropriate marketing to children, such as age restricted products. See our Fact Sheet on Marketing to Children for further information.

What is the IAB doing on this? 

Whilst the CAP code makes clear the need for clarity and transparency when communicating with consumers, the ability to do so within the confines of social media has presented the industry with challenges. The IAB, in collaboration with ISBA – the voice of British advertisers – produced a set of guidelines to cover paid for promotions within social media. For example when an individual is paid to tweet, and the marketer has editorial control of the message, the IAB promotes the use of #ad.

Go back to the main Digital Advertising Policy Guide.

Want to know more?

CAP offers a copy advice service for marketers who want assurance that their copy is compliant.

For queries related to Social Media contact Sophia Amin, sophia@iabuk.net. And if you want to keep up to date with the latest regulatory developments that affect your business, sign up to our monthly email Policy Focus or contact our Policy Team policy@iabuk.net.