The initiative aims to promote better regulation and self-regulation for influencers and brands that use them, culminating with the onboarding of industry players on a best practices charter.
A new engagement, part of the LEAD initiative launched conjointly in June 2020 by the Advertising Business Group (ABG) and Dubai-based privately-owned media company Mediaquest, will focus on improving transparency in influencer marketing in the UAE.
With an estimated $250 million spent on influencer marketing in the MENA region in 2019 according to Ipsos Connect, and an industry projected to reach $15 billion globally by 2022 as per Business Insider Intelligence, the need for proper guidelines and, more importantly, for their implementation is more acute than ever.
Indeed, paid influencer content is advertising by another name and should be declared as such so that consumers are not misled or even deceived when looking for recommendations or information.
All stakeholders have a joint responsibility and legal obligation to clearly highlight commercial content or risk harming the industry at large by hurting brands’ and influencers’ trustworthiness and credibility. Yet, in spite of rules and regulations set by the UAE’s National Media Council, UAE influencers, brands, and their agencies often find challenges in understanding the requirements and in adhering to transparency standards in influencer marketing.
The Bukhash Brothers’ Influencer Marketing 2018-2019 survey notably pointed to the fact that 84% of influencers do not disclose branded content or brand partners.
This issue is not specific to the UAE, however, and many self-regulatory organizations (SROs) globally are striving to address it by engaging with industry players and formulating clear guidelines.
This is why, in line with the ABG’s role as an advocate for responsible advertising standards, the latest LEAD engagement has been conducting in-depth research and interviews with local industry players to understand the state of market, identify the existing gaps, and find potential solutions.
The next step is a series of roundtables bringing together social media platforms, influencer marketing agencies, brands, and advertising agencies to reflect on and discuss the findings, in order to develop and eventually adopt a better and more transparent framework for commercial and paid content.
This “Good Conduct Charter” for transparency in influencer marketing will be presented to the industry once finalized and signed on.
Building on its approach of creating a shared understanding of responsible advertising, promoting best global practices, and providing industry players with a platform to work together as one group to drive change, the LEAD initiative strives to provide educate and provide guidance, ultimately protecting the industry and all its components.
To join the initiative and participate in this critical work, contact the ABG.