Come June 14, 'influencers' with wide following on social media who advertise brands from their accounts will have to disclose paid partnerships, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) said on Thursday.
The self-regulatory body pegged the size of the digital influencers industry at USD 150 million, with digital marketing coming a long way over the past few years.
It has been engaged in stakeholder interactions since last year and released a draft of the influencer advertising guidelines in February 2021.
Dhruv Chitgopekar, founding partner of the Collective Artists Network and the chief executive of Bigbang.Social, who was among those consulted, told reporters that influencers started off as "guerillas" on the marketing scene but are now at the forefront.
He exuded confidence that the guidelines will not result in any dip in revenues for such influencers and there will be better transparency.
Dolly Singh, a digital influencer, admitted that she has seen a dip in engagement ever since she started disclosing a paid partnership but urged everyone to be more optimistic.
ASCI Secretary-General Manisha Kapoor said the organisation has hired technology firms to trawl content to identify non-disclosure.
Its chairman Subhash Kamath said so far it has seen 95 per cent compliance with its actions taken after flagging norm violations, and if nothing works, the body can also escalate it to the respective sectoral regulators.
"On social media, lines between content and promotion are getting blurred. The lines are not as clear," he said, explaining the need for ASCI to intervene.
He added that the guidelines, which are out on the web, do not seek to influence the creative process of making an ad at all. It is only the disclosures that ASCI wants as consumers have a right to know what is paid for and what is organic.
Kapoor further said ASCI has taken a very collaborative approach while coming up with the guidelines.
A press statement said feedback was received from 25 stakeholders after the release of the draft guidelines.