In response to growing demand from regulators in the US and UK increasingly calling out influencer and publisher non-compliance, Awin has launched adMission - an industry first, multi-network advertising disclosure tool.
As industry regulators scrutinize the commercial relationships that exist between bloggers and social media influencers and the brands they promote, publishers need to offer visibility to the audiences they promote and recommend products to.
The lack of easy-to-use solutions, however, has led to the majority of publishers not offering clarity to their audiences about how they generate revenue from their traffic and websites. Asked whether they would make use of a free-to-use, automated disclosure tool, 85% said they would.
How does adMission work?
adMission is a simple tool allowing publishers to customize the disclosure text they wish to display and the identifier* they wish to use on their websites, and can be universally applied to all featured tracking domains. There is no limit to the number of domains that can be added, so publishers can make sure they have covered every single one of their paid or sponsored links in a single solution, regardless of whether it runs through the Awin network or not.
Having consulted with publishers earlier in the year, it was clear that a plug-and-play, automated solution providing link and page level, as well as sitewide, disclosure messaging would help remove the regulatory headache for Awin’s publishers.
Encouragingly when questioned in the same publisher compliance survey, 86% of our partners said they didn’t feel disclosure would have a negative impact on their relationship with their audience - with almost half believing it a positive move.
What is required for compliant disclosure?
While compliance advice varies across different countries and between types of publisher activity, there is a growing awareness among publishers of the importance of disclosure. Awin recently surveyed 650 publishers in Germany, the US and UK, with 71% saying the issue was either important or very important.
There is no global consistency on how to approach disclosure, but the key requirements outlined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US and Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK can be broken down into a few fundamental elements. In the simplest terms, a disclosure notification must appear close to the ad or link and this must be clear, unambiguous and obvious.
For social posts, the inclusion of #ad would suffice; yet for blogs, content and most websites, an identifier can be used to signify a paid link, such as an asterisk. Both the FTC and ASA pages contain details about the different nuances and potential exceptions, as well as context from previous legal rulings. Awin recommends looking through the relevant guidelines for the regions you promote to see which regulations are applicable to your publisher activity.
Advertisers are responsible for disclosure too
The topic of disclosure might initially be perceived exclusively as a publisher problem. After all, it is publisher sites that display the related links and adverts. However, the regulators make it clear that responsibility rests on the shoulders of both the publisher and the advertiser. It is also important to highlight that these guidelines are relevant to every publisher, regardless of size.
According to the ASA, "It is your responsibility to know who is promoting your products, where they are promoting them and that your affiliates are following the advertising rules."
Likewise, the FTC says, "Advertisers need to have reasonable programs in place to train and monitor members of their network … It’s unrealistic to expect you to be aware of every single statement made by a member of your network. But it’s up to you to make a reasonable effort to know what participants in your network are saying."
It’s important to state that, while the tool may help achieve compliance, use of adMission does not guarantee a publisher's compliance with its obligations under applicable law or advertising standards, or under any agreements that the publisher has with Awin.
adMission can be accessed by any Awin affiliate with the Publisher Mastertag via the user interface.