While we agree with full disclosure, the Competition Bureau and other regulators should justify why digital publishers are held to a much higher standard than print publishers.
In print publishing, native advertising disclosure is a simple matter of adding “Advertisement” at the top of a page in tiny italics. In many cases, it’s disguised as regular content or mentioned in content produced by the publication, both of which implies endorsement. Print publications don’t disclose if they’ve received free products, payment for product suggestions, and so on.
Additionally, digital publishers (like bloggers) often take great pride in providing objective recommendations, whether they receive compensation or not. Businesses are paying for advertising, NOT a positive review. In fact, it’s common for influencers to turn down advertisers if they can’t promote them in good conscience. Current laws force them to admit to a biased opinion that they don’t necessarily have.
Consumers are more inclined to trust print publications and are more wary of online influencers, making it difficult to justify the bias based on concerns for Canadians. One is no more deceptive than the other and should be treated equally by law. In print, Canadians are given a little credit for being intelligent enough to understand sponsorship and they should be given the same credit online.
However, we must obey the current laws and live to fight another day. Contact the Competition Bureau and related government departments to respectfully object and educate.
_________________ PRESS RELEASE
GATINEAU, QC, Dec. 19, 2019 /CNW/ – Consumers must be able to easily recognize when social media content is actually an advertisement.
The Competition Bureau sent letters to close to one hundred brands and marketing agencies involved in influencer marketing in Canada, advising that they review their marketing practices to ensure they comply with the law.
Influencers should clearly disclose the relationships they have with the business, product or service they promote. There is a relationship if the influencer receives money or commissions, free products or services, discounts, free trips or tickets to events, or has a business or family connection with the brand, among other things. Influencers should also be honest, and base any reviews and testimonials on actual experience.
Businesses share a responsibility with influencers when they post advertisements on social media, as they may be liable for false or misleading content.
The Bureau reached out to brands and marketing agencies following a thorough review of influencer marketing practices across various industries, including health and beauty, fashion, technology and travel.
- Advertisers may pay or compensate influencers to create and share content that feature their products or brands.
- The Competition Act applies to influencer marketing just as it would to traditional forms of advertising.
- The deceptive marketing practices provisions of the Competition Act apply to anyone who is promoting a product, service, or any business interest, and those who do not comply may face significant penalties.
“When navigating the digital marketplace, consumers often rely on the opinions shared by influencers,” says Matthew Boswell, Commissioner of Competition. “To make informed purchasing decisions, consumers must know if these opinions are independent or an advertisement. Ensuring truth in advertising in Canada’s digital economy is a priority for the Competition Bureau.”
The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, ensures that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace.
SOURCE: Competition Bureau
CONTACT: For media enquiries, please contact: Media Relations, Telephone: 819-994-5945, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; For general enquiries, please contact: Information Centre, Competition Bureau, Telephone: 819-997-4282, Toll free: 1-800-348-5358, TTY (hearing impaired): 1-800-694-8389